During a board meeting this week, Alameda County in Northern California passed a ban on “mutton busting”—a practice where children jump on sheep to race them as the animals desperately try to escape. The practice was common during the county’s annual Castro Valley’s Rowell Ranch Rodeo. Animal-rights groups In Defense of Animals (IDA) and Coalition for a More Humane Alameda County (CMHAC) County have worked in the area to ban the cruel sport. While Alameda County banned this particular type of rodeo, other practices that exploit animals for entertainment, such as calf-roping, are still permitted. “Alameda County’s sheep riding ban is an important first step,” Matthew Hamity, IDA Director of Campaigns and Legislative Affairs, said. “We will not rest until the cruelest rodeo practices are abolished. Tie-down calf roping, and the use of flank strap and spurs in horse bucking events, routinely cause serious injury and even death.” In May, IDA erected a billboard against cruel rodeo practices on Highway 580 for the duration of Castro Valley’s Rowell Ranch Rodeo and, jointly with CMHAC, proposed an ordinance that would eliminate the use of spurs, bucking straps, and calf-roping. “The tide is turning against exploitation and abuse of animals for entertainment,” IDA President Marilyn Kroplick, MD, said. “The shocking mistreatment of sheep, calves, and horses in rodeos is every bit as harmful and significant as the cruelty inflicted on orcas at SeaWorld and elephants in circuses.”

Photo Credit: TK210 Graphik Photography

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