A TOP rodeo organiser has hit back at activists and accused them of lacking any understanding of the livestock industry.
Stock handler Jason Murray, 38, said activists were “misinformed” and failed to realise animals are “well cared” for.
He spoke out following claims from activists that rodeo animals are badly treated and that the sport exploits them for profit.
Mr Murray, from Dallas, Texas, runs his own stock company J&J Rodeo Texas, and provides stock Texas High School Rodeo Association Finals in Abilene.
He said: “They’re totally misinformed.
“They don’t understand the sport.
“They don’t understand the livestock and they don’t understand what it is that we do.
“They don’t understand the time that is spent on caring for these animals.
“Those animals make me a living and if I don’t have them, I don’t make a living. So they’re going to be cared for.”
Some cities in the United States, including Pasadena, California, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, have prohibited the sport all together.
While injuries and death occur to rodeo animals, the rates of such occurrences are quite low.
A 2009 survey conducted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys association which covered 194 rodeos showed the injury rate among more than 75,000 animals was a remarkably low 0.00037 per cent.
Between performances, rodeo livestock enjoy a relatively high standard of living, it said.
Aside from having on-site veterinary care available, rodeo stock often is housed under shaded areas, protecting the animals from the elements.
Fresh water and top-quality feed are a priority, and stock handlers such as Murray are quite meticulous about supplying it.
He added: “A little roping calve eats more feed than most people’s cows that they’ve turned out on the range.
“They don’t get near the care that this rodeo livestock does.”
The flank strap, which critics of rodeo claim is a device designed to create pain and force an animal to buck, is in fact, lined with sheepskin.
It is placed in front of the hind legs of the animal (not around the genitals, as some allege) and is a harmless annoyance to a horse or bull.
The use of electrical stimulating devices, while used in the past, is now banned in several areas and by several rodeos.
As public pressure increased, rodeo has adapted, said Murray
“It’s a concern,” said Murray of rodeo’s future.
“But good things happen to good people and rodeo people are good people.
“So I feel like we’re going to be fine.”