I don't think I am overstating when I proclaim that, even in a year that included so very many big rodeo busts, SHARK's latest rodeo bust is the most significant of all.
We have caught the rodeo mafia red-handed violating their promise of veterinary care for their animal victims. The victims are the steers of steer busting, the most abused victims in the rodeo industry. And it wasn't just any rodeo, but the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association' s National Finals Steer Roping in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Just when our "friends" in the rodeo mafia thought their heartaches from SHARK's exposes were over, given the near end of the rodeo season, they caught the nastiest of surprises.
We let the rodeo folks believe that they were home free with their abuses in this, the worst of rodeo events, until the very end. The Finals had literally just ended before they found out that the rotten acts of abuse they had dumped on the animals was going to come back on them in a very, very big way. See our videos posted on YouTube:
The very fact that the steer busting finals were held in a place like Hobbs (where, you are asking, is that?), when all the other rodeo finals events are held in Las Vegas, is an acknowledgement by rodeo folks that steer busting is indefensible. Hobbs is close to nothing, and this gave the rodeo people false security, thinking we wouldn't bother to go there. That actually made Hobbs irresistible to us.
Now we have additional campaign targets, as if we needed any more. But in the case of the Boys and Girls Club of America, whose shocking story you will read below, we will be fighting not only for the welfare of animals, but for children as well. I hope you will join me in taking action on behalf of rodeo victims, as well as the young victims of the Boys and Girls Club nationwide.
If the Boys and Girls Club doesn't come around, and fast, the organization' s Atlanta headquarters is going to get a visit from the Tiger Truck (assuming we get some funding). Hopefully it won't come to that, but it is up to them. Please call and email the National Headquarters of the Boys and Girls Club of America right away. Contact information is provided below.
On November 2 & 3, SHARK investigators conducted an undercover investigation into the National Finals Steer Roping (NFSR) in Hobbs, New Mexico.
After SHARK's repeated exposes this season, the rodeo industry's videocam ban came as little surprise. Having anticipated the rodeo's move, we were ready. The rodeo thugs never had a clue as SHARK used undercover equipment to document the brutal abuse.
The Rodeo mafia tried, but failed from keeping SHARK videotaping their cruelty and exposing it to the world.
While signs indicated the PRCA was protecting its rights, the real reason is that video images of steer busting are exposing the terrible abuses, injuries and deaths of rodeo animals, especially at rodeos that include steer busting.
This was the third time SHARK investigators attended the NFSR. Still, I am amazed at the level of violence that the steers endure. Given the brutality in steer busting, it's almost miraculous that any of the victims walk away.
On the first night, three injured steers were dragged out equating to a 4% injury rate. This of course does not include those animals that go down later from internal injuries and the other medical problems cause by their abuse.
On the second night two more steers were dragged out, while another injured steer was barely able to hobble out.
Another 4% injury rate. This means, if the same animals are used, that in every twenty- five performances, 100% of the animals end up dead or injured.
A horse was also injured when his leg became entangled during the roping.
When the first steer was injured on Friday night the rodeo announcer falsely claimed:
"We work in complete harmony with the American Humane Society of the U S of A."
There is no truth whatsoever to that statement. It is an absolute lie. But then, rodeo announcers lie all the time about the number and severity of rodeo animal injuries, even to the point of claiming that animals killed are still alive. The announcer said he would inform the crowd about the condition of the injured steer. No such announcement was ever made. Not about that steer, not about any of the victims.
In the October 24, 2007 edition of the PRCA publication, ProRodeo Sport News, a caption under a picture of the Lea County Event Center states the following:
"The top fifteen ropers from 2007 will battle for a record $195,000 purse in front of sold-out crowds for two nights." Sold out crowds? Take a look at these pictures of the stands taken during the 2007 finals. This is the PRCA's version of "sold out crowds? If there was any humor to be found at this bludgeon-fest, it was this statement, given the fact that the huge number of empty seats.
One thing you probably won't hear from Governor Richardson's presidential campaign is that he has committed tens of millions of tax dollars to promote and enrich the cruel rodeo industry in New Mexico. This is in spite SHARK's personal meeting with the governor, at which time we gave him overwhelming video and still images, and other information regarding rodeo animal abuse.
Governor Richardson's generosity to the rodeo industry is especially appalling given that New Mexico is one of the most impoverished states in the nation.
So what was the care given to steers injured at the Steer Busting Finals?
The first injury on the second night occurred at about 8:15 p.m. Within two minutes the victim was dragged out of the arena and locked in the back of a livestock trailer as I documented hidden outside. The steer was not checked out by a veterinarian, in spite of the rodeo announcer's promise that injured animals would receive, "the very, very best care." Another rodeo lie exposed
The second injured steer was sledded out about an hour later. Like the first victim, he was dragged into the trailer, which was then locked up. There was no veterinary care provided.
I stayed around the area for the duration of the performance, filming from time to time from across the road. During that time, no one went into the trailer. There was no care given to the injured victims. The rodeo performance ended at approximately 10:30 pm. At 10:43 pm Janet and I attempted to talk to stock contractor, Rocky Garnett to inquire about the condition of the steers. Even though we saw Rocky Garnett in the shadows, the rodeo folks denied Rocky Garnett was there.
Deputies from the Lea County Sheriff's appeared and I again requested to speak with Rocky Garnett regarding the condition of the steers. An officer reappeared a few minutes later stating that Rocky was too busy to talk with us. Then Ralph Knoll, Director of Activities for the Lea County Event Center appeared stating that we were in violation of PRCA copyright rules, issued a criminal trespass warning and ordered us off the property. We received permission from the Deputies to continue to videotape across the street - off of the Event Center property. A truck and tractor were brought in and bright lights were displayed in an attempt to block our view of the trailer with the injured steers.
The November 10, 2007 edition of the Albuquerque Journal included an article about the injured steers at the steer busting finals. Cindy Schonholtz, who holds the title of PRCA Animal Welfare Coordinator, claimed that none of the steers sustained serious injuries, and further claimed that the steers were sledded out "as a precaution." Most interestingly, Ms. Schonholtz claimed that by the end of the event, the cattle were released from the trailer to feed in pens. That is another rodeo lie.
The police report states:
"They (the steers) were removed from the event center in the same trailer."
SHARK placed numerous calls to Cindy Schonholtz after the NFSR to communicate SHARK's findings about the finals, and to get the supposed onsite veterinarian' s injury reports. Ms. Schonholtz did not return any of our calls.
We were very pleasantly surprised by the very professional conduct of deputies of the Lea County Sheriff's Department. The deputies were among the most professional we have ever encountered. We sent a letter to the Sheriff's Department expressing our appreciation.
We were horrified to see that the Boys and Girls Club of Hobbs brought approximately one hundred children to the steer busting finals. It's bad enough that the PRCA would stoop so low as to use children to try to fill its largely empty stands, but what of the reaction from the Boys and Girls Club?
On November 8th, 2007, SHARK Campaigns Manager, Janet Enoch spoke with Mr. Mike Clampett, Chief Professional Officer of the Hobbs Boys and Girls Club. According to Mr. Clampett, the decision to bring young children to see this spectacle was his. When Ms. Enoch asked to talk to Mr. Clampett's supervisor, Mr. Clampett stated he did not have one. When Ms. Enoch, who had done her homework, asked to speak to Board President, Brian McWilliams, who is in fact Mr. Clampett's superior, Mr. Clampett hung up on Janet.
Janet is currently in discussions with Telayo Stansfield of The Boys and Girls Club National Headquarters' Vice President Glenn Permway office. Unlike Mr. Clampett, Ms. Stansfield has been professional and cordial.
Please call Ms. Stansfield and politely request that the Boy and Girls Club of America issue a corporate policy banning all the BGCA locations from taking children to rodeos and any other event wherein an animal may suffer harm.
Ms. Telayo Stansfield, Boys and Girls Clubs of America
1275 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309-3506
Phone: (404) 487-5700
Please advise SHARK of responses you receive from the Boys and Girls Club of America regarding this issue. SHARK will update developments in the Boys and Girls Club and Bank of America matter on SHARK's
We were very surprised and disappointed to see Bank of America sponsoring steer busting. This was the ad on page 24 of the steer busting program.
SHARK has tried unsuccessfully to contact Bank of America decision makers, so we are now launching a campaign to expose Bank of America. We hope the company will quickly reconsider this extremely cruel and unethical sponsorship.
Please click here for contact information for BOA. If you are a BOA account holder, it is especially important for the company to hear from you.
WE NEED TO TAKE THE TIGER TRUCK OUT, BUT...
Now that the rodeo season has for the most part ended, and it gets dark earlier, it is time to take the Tiger Truck out and show the public the rodeo abuses we have exposed this year.
SHARK's "Born to Buck?" video series:
proves that the horses in rodeos are NOT "Born to Buck" and that they are shocked and goaded into bucking.
completely dismisses the rodeo rhetoric about how the bulls are wild and dangerous killers while being videotaped enjoying pets and scratches from SHARK investigators.
SHARK's recent trip to Hobbs, NM for the National Finals Steer Roping shows that the PRCA doesn't provide medical care to injured steers in violation of their humane rules.
Unfortunately, however, we have severely depleted our funds investigating and exposing rodeo during this intense season. It is revolting that corporate sponsors are giving the rodeo industry millions of dollars to abuse and kill animals, while SHARK and other animal protection organizations are struggling to get funding to stop the many atrocities affecting animals in today's society.
Unless SHARK receives some funds, we are unable to hit the streets with the Tiger Truck, and the second Tiger Truck will have to wait. While this will make rodeo and other animal abusers very happy, it is not a good thing at all for the animals.
Click here to see photos and video of the Tiger in action!
Please don't let another moment go by without doing something for the animals. Your support is vitally needed to help us continue our work on behalf of the forgotten victims of rodeo abuse and other cruelty.
Steve Hindi and Your SHARK Team