Bull-Riding Events Held in Downtown Los Angeles Amid Protests

Bull Riding

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - With a proposed ban on rodeo tools still pending a final City Council vote, the Professional Bull Riders tour will conclude its two-day stop in downtown Los Angeles Sunday, along with protesters who say the events amount to animal cruelty.

About 20 demonstrators braved the rain and cold Saturday night outside Crypto.com Arena. Inside the arena, 12,529 fans attended the PBR's SoCal Showdown, part of the organization's Unleash the Beast tour, which feature "the world's Top 30 bull riders going head-to-head against the fiercest bucking bulls on the planet," according to PBR's website.

A tour official said about 9,000 fans were expected for Sunday's early afternoon event.

A Los Angeles City Council committee passed a proposed ordinance in December that would prohibit the use of electric prods, shocking devices, flank or bucking straps, wire tiedowns, sharpened or fixed spurs and rowels from rodeos or similar events.

The council originally requested the city attorney to draft the proposed ordinance in early 2021, modeling it after a 1992 ordinance enacted in Pittsburgh that Los Angeles officials say has worked well in its 30 years of enforcement.

The city attorney finalized the language of the proposed ban in December 2021, yet final approval has been slow in coming.

Hugh Esten, a spokesman for Council President Paul Krekorian, told City News Service on Wednesday that there's been "no date set yet" for the council to take a final vote on the issue.

"This passed committee unanimously late last year. I wished it would have passed council by now because it breaks my heart that more animals will suffer this weekend. But we were working hard to make sure it will pass soon so this can be the last of it in LA," said John Popoch, deputy chief of staff for Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who co-authored the original motion in 2021.

"Rodeos often use a number of inhumane implements ... to encourage aggressive behavior in animals to produce an entertainment product. Animals suffer significant injuries during common rodeo events such as bull and bronco riding, steer wrestling and calf roping," the City Council motion stated. "Many animals are put down as a result of injuries sustained during these events. ... It is time for our city to act in the interest of animal welfare on this issue as it has in the past for other issues."

A sizable coalition of animal advocacy groups has lobbied the council for passage of the proposed ban, including Last Chance for Animals, PETA, PETA Latino, Animal Legal Defense Fund, In Defense of Animals, Animal Defenders International, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness and Compassion Works International.

"The torture tools that are used on these innocent beings is a horrendous, barbaric practice that needs to be to be updated and for us to look down at and say, `How did we even practice this?"' Annie Abram of Los Angeles for Animals told the council's Personnel, Audits and Animal Welfare committee. "... We know animals feel pain, suffer, hurt, love, and want to live and be safe and free just like you and me. It is our obligation to protect the most vulnerable."

PBR events focus on bull riding and do not include other traditional rodeo events. The tour has fought back against the protesters, running an ad prior to this weekend's events that states: "Buck the L.A. City Council. The Only Thing Being Tortured is the Truth."

Sean Gleason, CEO and commissioner of Professional Bull Riders Inc., has called the proposed ordinance "unnecessary legislation" that will cancel events that he says benefit the local community.

"If it passes, we will not have events in L.A.," Gleason told CNS previously. He added that PBR has many rules in place to ensure its animals are treated well, and offered to "invite L.A. City Council members to come to Crypto.com (Arena) ... to learn about the animal athletes who are the real rock stars of the sport, get the best care and live a great, long life -- four to five times longer than animals not fortunate enough to compete."

Pasadena banned the display of wild or exotic animals on public property in 2015, a law that applied to circuses and rodeos. Irvine banned rodeos in 2011, and Laguna Woods and Chino Hills have also banned them.

Other cities and counties -- including Alameda County in Northern California and Clark County in Nevada -- have passed more narrow prohibitions on specific rodeo activities without banning the events all together.

Rodeos are banned in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and Vancouver, Canada banned them in 2006.

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