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Government response on rodeo a good start, says SAFE

SAFE supports a government move announced today, that they will look at welfare issues in rodeo, but believe more needs to done. The Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri announced that officials have been asked to see how animal welfare can be improved in the use of calves, electric prodders, flank straps, tail twisting and rope burning.

“We are pleased to see the government is taking action given the strong public outcry and listening to the many New Zealanders who oppose rodeos due to the cruelty to animals involved. They need to take this very seriously and uphold their election promise, which was to ban the use of animals under 12 months, flank straps, rope burning and the use of electronic prods,” says Mandy Carter campaigns director. “The latest development is a good first step towards a New Zealand where animals are no longer forced to perform for the entertainment of a minority. Rodeo is inherently cruel.”

NAWAC, (the government body who reviews animal treatment in NZ and formulates rules on animal welfare), already says they have serious concerns regarding calf roping and that, “Calves should not be used in rodeo events.” Despite this, rodeos around NZ use these young animals for both calf roping and calf riding. The latter involves children being put on their backs while the calves are forced to buck using an irritating ‘flank strap’.

“Scientific studies confirm that rodeo has a harmful effect on animals, especially on calves when they are roped,” says Ms Carter. “A peer-reviewed study, funded by an Australian rodeo association, concluded that calf roping causes an ‘acute stress response’. Obvious signs of stress in roped calves are commonly witnessed, including bellowing, showing the whites of their eyes and having their tongue hanging out. These young animals are being bullied for entertainment and even when calves survive without physical injury, they have been put through a distressing experience.”

In 2016, over 62,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on rodeo and presented it to parliament. A Horizon poll also showed that 59% of Kiwis supported a ban on rodeo and more than two-thirds of survey respondents (68%) related strongest to the statement that “Rodeo causes pain and suffering to animals and it is not worth causing this just for the sake of entertainment”.

“Rodeo is nothing more than pseudo-cowboys forcing animals to perform purely for fun. Just as our society is trying to stamp out bullying to young people, caring Kiwis also want an end to the bullying of animals,” says Ms Carter. “Rodeo’s time is up. We are confident that when our new government looks at this issue closely they will see that it goes against New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act. This cruelty should soon be consigned to the history books where it belongs.”

SAFE encourages concerned people to write to the Prime Minister.

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