John Merryfield: End the Truckee Rodeo

Cowboy boots, rugged individualism, brave cowboys and cowgirls; the Truckee Rodeo is coming to town again this summer.

Rodeos are promoted as rough-and-tough exercises of skill and courage in a cavalier spirit of the Wild West. What’s not widely seen is the electric prods, spurs, bucking straps, and animal injuries; sometimes resulting in death, all without the animals consent.

Anyone who has lived with a companion animal (dog, cat, horse, etc.) knows that it’s wrong to body slam an animal to the ground, tie its legs so it can’t move, and drag it by the neck. If this were done to a dog or a cat, the offender would understandably be charged with a crime and likely jailed. In Rodeos, however, it’s considered sport and thought of by a small percentage of society as entertainment.

Animals are not property, objects, machines, or products. They are sentient, feel pain, and deserve our respect. Forget the myth of rodeos as all-American sport. Modern rodeos are cruel and deadly for animals. If desired, many rodeo videos where animals were harmed can be viewed publicly via YouTube.

At the root of rodeo violence, is our human history of eating animals. Animal cruelty has largely remained unexamined due to the fact that we kill and exploit the lives of animals for our food. Our habituation to the cruelty to animals in rodeos is merely a reflection of what and how we treat animals in slaughterhouses and stockyards.

Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of an evolving society. A bullying culture- racism, dog fighting, bull fighting, and rodeos are all cut from the same clothe. We can, and should evolve our thinking. As a society we’re still evolving on issues like civil rights, women’s liberation, the peace movement, Earth Day, gay rights — all are historically significant.

Awakening to the suffering we cause others is the first step to creating a more just, and compassionate world. Communities like Truckee can find new ways to be entertained rather than at the expense of innocent animals.

We should end the Truckee rodeo.

John Merryfield

Tahoe City

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