Legally Brief: “Extreme” Animal Exploitation

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on November 21, 2013

In pursuit of the next new thing, the next thrilling adventure, the next risky endeavor, some are turning to extreme animal sports like running from bulls. These spectacles are brought to us by a company known as Great Bull Run, LLC, a business ventured started by two former attorneys who tired of their profession and decided to dip into animal exploitation to make a profit. Their company tours the country, offering these dangerous and cruel events as “sport.”

Last week, The New York Times quoted the Great Bull Run’s chief operating officer, Rob Dickens, as saying “we need to crank up the danger,” even though two people had just been injured in a recent Georgia bull run put on by his company—one with a pelvis broken in several places after being severely trampled by a bull. And only two weeks ago, the Californian city of Lake Elsinore denied a permit to the company, citing safety issues. ALDF has been a vocal opponent of these events from the beginning.

Entertainment or abuse? Running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain, on January 27, 2008. (CC Mike Brice)

Entertainment or abuse? Running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain, on January 27, 2008. (CC Mike Brice)

To “crank up the danger,” some participants taunted, slapped, and otherwise egged on the bulls to make the experience more thrilling—and dangerous. “It is a truly dangerous event where runners could get seriously injured,” Dickens said to a Georgia reporter.

Why are the bulls running? These caged, frightened animals have often been used in rodeos, and are transported to the “event,” where they are clearly confused, unhappy, and irritated. I don’t see the sport in provoking innocent animals, just to get a thrill from their distress and their resulting panic.

This event places stress on these animals, and their fear is exploited in the run. Human safety isn’t much of a concern to the Great Bull Run, either. In fact, the thousands of participants ready to egg on distressed bulls have to sign liability waivers. The U.S. events are inspired by the Spanish bull runs, such as Pamplona, which have killed at least 15 people; dozens are injured every year. There’s no skill, no athleticism, and no honor in this event. This isn’t a sport, it’s people seeking a cheap thrill at the expense of animals and their own safety.

As an avid lover of the outdoors, I’m all about trying new things, taking risks, and… grabbing life “by the horns,” so to speak. But the choice to risk your own safety shouldn’t involve animal exploitation. If people really want an “extreme sport,” try running a double marathon for animals, like ALDF’s own William Rivas-Rivas did earlier this year. Just leave the animals out of it.


8 thoughts on “Legally Brief: “Extreme” Animal Exploitation

  1. Joyce says:

    Let this beautifull….not dangerous….people make all animals in our world dangerous!!!

  2. Linda Weiland says:

    Stop this barbaric practice!!

  3. Liz Schultz says:

    It is barbaric that a new ‘fun’ event which exploits and inflicts cruelty (mainly by the owners/handlers) on the poor beasts involved. It also disgusts me that so many people are unaware or uncaring of the cruelty that DOES go on behind the scenes of nearly all events which involve animals. Self-professed animal lovers at horse shows can be seen whipping their horses simply because they won’t go easily into the horse float or over a jump, but at rodeos the cruelty is at obscene levels. Anyone who says this is rubbish has either not bothered to check it out, are in denial or simply have a different idea as to what cruelty is. Someone once posted to me that I should butt out and get involved in dealing with REAL cruelty – I didn’t know there were different levels of cruelty, to me cruelty is just that…cruelty and it must stop.

  4. Jacinda says:

    I am hoping to keep this out of SF Bay area. I will be contacting you to see what I can do with other activists here and maybe with your help, we can keep this sadness out here as well.

    Thanks for all you do in the name of animals!

    1. Mac says:

      Please post information on proposed animal exploitative events wherever possible, to keep activists updated on exactly where, when, and by whom these events are planned, sought, and approved.
      Thank you!

      1. ALDF says:

        Good to hear that this information is wanted, we will post more updates when they become available!

  5. Ashley Paulus says:

    Time to put an end to this.

  6. Marilyn Beidler says:

    Glad you are going to stop this practice.