Vet’s opinion on Rodeos and Bull riding

Animals are used in various spectator events for exhibition, entertainment and sports. Unavoidably, there will always be some element of stress and risk involved when animals are involved in any of these events because: They are moved outside the environment where they are normally kept and in some cases they are required to perform a specific function that can increase the chances of stress and injury.

Therefore these events need to be graded as high risk, medium risk and low risk events.

  • High risks events need to be banned.
  • Medium risk events need to take place under the auspices and regulation body according to a set of well developed rules and regulations and full time supervision by a veterinarian during the event.
  • Low risk organised events also need to take place under the auspices of a responsible organising body according to basic rules and regulations.

Events like shows [dog, cat or livestock] can be graded as low risk but there is still a chance of injury or contracting disease.

The South African Veterinary Association is opposed to using animals in any event with a high risk of serious injury or which can lead to death or suffering. An example of high risk event which is currently banned is dog fights.

Other events like horseracing is classified as medium risk because of the possibility of injury during the race or contraction of disease at the gathering of horses from different sources.  Therefore there is a well-established regulatory body with rules and regulations in place to enable these events to take place.

As far as we know, no classification of risk was made in the case of rodeos in South Africa and it is not known if a well-established regulatory body exists like in the case of the USA where this activity originated.  In their case, a well-established authority exists with very stringent rules and regulations which also would classify it as a medium risk event that must take place under the supervision of a veterinarian.

We would propose that rodeos in the interim be classified as high risk events until all events are regulated and that a veterinarian must be present at these events. Furthermore, that all events must be stopped until there is a responsible governing body in place with a well-developed set of rules and regulations that can be enforced and used by the responsible veterinarian to evaluate the welfare and risk at these events.

After the necessary involvement of veterinarians at these events, an analysis and decision can be made on the classification of rodeos as a welfare risk.
If the risk of injury or suffering proves to be high, these events will remain classified as high risk and the South African Veterinary Association will take a stance against the staging of these events.

– Drs Minette Nel en Andrea Farrell, Care Four Paws Dierekliniek, Thabazimbi.