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Pets and their People: Cowboy Brutes; RODEO ANIMALS SUFFER KICKS AND PUNCHES.

Byline: By BRITT COLLINS

AN AUDIENCE cheers as rodeo animals buck their cowboy riders - little knowing that behind the scenes the beasts endure terrible cruelty.

The events are billed as tough tests of courage against untamed beasts of the Wild West, but most of the performing horses, cows and bulls are really terrified farm animals.

To make sure the beasts appear wild and put on a good show in the ring, the handlers spend days whipping them into a frenzy through KICKS, PUNCHES and making them wear painful STRAPS.

Tony Moore from Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe (FAACE) went undercover to watch the rodeos in Europe. He said: "It's seen as a bit of fun but the truth is that ordinary farm animals are made to appear wild by being tortured."

In Berlin, the group uncovered a series of cruel tricks used to make tame animals look mean. Tony said: "They make horses and bulls wear a flank strap - a device clinched tightly around their abdomen, which makes them buck wildly."

Tony and his team also witnessed brutal tail twisting of baby calves and bulls which damages their spines. He said: "The animals are roughed up to make them bolt into the arena. But usually they're so stressed out, they just collapse.

"I saw one bull with his eyes bulging as he desperately searched for a way out. He defecated out of sheer terror."

Crammed in small filthy pens, the horses, bulls and calves have to "perform" several times a day. Animals were seen with open wounds from spurs dug into their flesh.

One of the cruellest parts of the rodeo is calf-roping. Tony said: "Calves are lassoed around the neck and slammed to the ground with terrible force. They often miss their head and end up catching the calf's legs or stomach and fatally injuring them."

Broken limbs are commonplace in the ring. The injured go straight to the slaughterhouse.

Tony, calling for a ban on rodeos, said: "As long as people are willing to pay to attend them, they are perpetrating animal cruelty. It is important to boycott these events."

- TO support FAACE send cheques payable to FAACE, 29 Shakespeare St, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 5AB.

CAPTION(S):

CRUEL: A calf is lassoed by the neck; INJURY: Broken limbs are common
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 31, 2005
Words:383
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