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Joanne Ehret: Say no to scheduled bull riding event

To the editor:

I am writing to alert readers about a horrific event coming up at the Mass Mutual Center, sponsored by MGM Springfield: Bull Riding. With all the talk of bullying in the news, many people realize that’s exactly what is happening to the bulls exploited by bull riders.

They are teased, shocked with electric prods and assaulted into “action” while they are wearing bucking straps around their groin area. The bulls buck uncontrollably from such torment, in a futile attempt to escape the torture. The painful strap is only loosened once they have thrown the rider. The strap can cause bloody open wounds which investigators have found at most rodeo and bull riding events.

This animal abuse portrayed as sport is promoted as a family event, where children can cheer alongside adults as animals are dominated and brutalized. What does this teach our children?

Please contact the Mass Mutual Center and MGM Springfield to say no to this terrible animal abuse.

Joanne Ehret

Belchertown

You clearly havnt done your reseaerch. These bulls are treated like celebritys, stock contractors take care of thier bull to keep them strong and healthy to ensure that they can buck thier best. The flank strap does not cause the bulls to bleed, whoever wrote that doesnt know what they are talking about. The flank strap goes aroung the bull, infront of its hind legs. It is tightened slightly to cause the bull to buck. It does not hurt them, or make them bleed. It simply makes them a little uncomfortable. If youve ever seen a bull riding event you would see that most of the bulls just want to buck off thier rider and go back into the pens. They arnt being "tortured". Of coarse a few like to give a little after show an make the cowboys run for the fences, but bulls that are in rodeo, dont know how good they have it. The "hot shots" that are somtimes used to get a difficult bull to cooperate does not hurt the bulls, its about the equivlant of those electic shock packs of gum that make you jump a little. For the bulls its the same thing, they just get a little wake up call. So next time you want to stop "terrible animal abuse" get your facts straight you tree hugger, and leave bull riding alone. Bull riding it currently the fast growing sport in the nation. So if you have a problem, keep it to yourself. Ive been ridden enough bulls myself to know that the only ones getting hurt are the cowboys.

First of all, take a refresher in spelling and basic grammar. Second, my comments come on the heels of a thirty year career in medicine. Third, you obviously don't know the meaning of "subjective" because you too claim to know something you can't possibly know (i.e. whether another living thing is in pain). I suggest you subject yourself to the "celebrity" treatment you describe then come back and let us know how you like it.

p.s. I stand by my reply even if your name-calling screed was actually directed at the letter writer.

Not that I'm a Bull Riding enthusiast, but I always thought the rider, not the bull, got the worst of it. I was curious if Ms. Ehret's accusations had merit. For what it's worth, here's what wikipedia had to say... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_riding Criticism There is heated debate between animal rights organizations and bull riding enthusiasts over many aspects of the sport. One source of controversy is the flank strap. The flank strap is placed around a bull's flank, just in front of the hind legs, to encourage bucking. Critics say that the flank strap encircles or otherwise binds the genitals of the bull. However, others argue that the flank strap is anatomically impossible to place over the genitals; they also point out that the bull's genes are valuable and that there is a strong economic incentive to keep the animal in good reproductive health. Further, particularly in the case of bulls, an animal that is sick and in pain usually will not want to move at all, will not buck as well, and may even lie down in the chute or ring rather than buck.[14] Critics also claim that "hot shots"—electric cattle prods—are used to injure and torture bulls, while supporters claim that a quick shot simply gets the bull out of the chute quickly and is only a moderate irritation due to the thickness of the animal's hide. Cattle prods have not been used in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour for several years. However, in smaller associations, a cattle prod is still sometimes used[citation needed] to ensure that the animal leaves the chute as soon as the rider nods his head. Hot shots are not allowed by any major association. Spurs are also a source of controversy, though modern rodeo rules place strict regulations on the type and use of spurs and participants point out that they are a tool commonly used in other non-rodeo equestrian disciplines. Spurs used in bull riding do not have a fixed rowel, nor can they be sharpened. The PBR currently allows only two types of rowels to ensure the safety of the animals. Bull riding has the highest rate of injury of any rodeo sport. It accounts for approximately 50% of all traumatic injuries to rodeo contestants, and the bullfighters have the highest injury rate of any non-contestant group.[15]

Wikepedia is just part of the electronic frontier's wild west. That stuff could have been written by anyone (for instance a bull riding promoter). But even if it's 100% accurate, it's not terribly relevant. Bull riders, bull fighters, et. al. choose to do it whereas the animals are forced into it. Doctors and nurses are required to regularly ask hospitalized patients if they are having pain, because it is not usually something you can assess objectively. Sure, if it's severe enough there are telltale signs which is where we get phrases like "writhing in pain" or "screaming in pain", however "Lying down quietly in pain" is not one I have yet heard. In the vast majority of cases one just has to ask. So it's quite amazing to me how these"experts" can tell when an animal that cannot speak is or isn't experiencing something as subjective as pain and suffering.

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