Cruelty On Display: Students Document Animal Cruelty At Colorado State University's Rodeo

Students say video shows animal abuse at university-sanctioned event
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Sport or cruel tradition? 

Sport or cruel tradition? 

Fort Collins, Colorado – Colorado State University has been accused of animal cruelty after students released a shocking video. The video from Rams Organizing for Animals Rights (ROAR) at CSU shows cows being stepped on and kicked, calves being thrown to the ground and slapped in the face, and a horse being dragged through the dirt.

Investigators Austin Joseph and Abigail Bearce, both CSU students, say the events shown in the video were not isolated incidents.

“Some of what we documented was abuse that isn’t sanctioned by rodeo rules,” said Joseph. “A few things seemed like honest accidents, but most of it was meant to happen. We documented plenty of incidents that were perfect examples of what happens when everything goes exactly as planned, and they still hurt animals. Cruelty is built into the rodeo, and there are parts that no amount of regulation can fix.”

Students claim tie-down roping events are one example of this. Video footage of tie-down roping shows a calf being chased out of the chute by a man on horseback, and then roped around the neck. Once the rope is secure, the calf is violently jerked back and the man dismounts his horse. The calf is then picked up, slammed to the ground, and tied up at the ankles. Since participants compete for the fastest time, the safety of the calf is rarely considered, and severe injuries sometimes occur. Tie-down roping is illegal in countries like Germany and England and states like Rhode Island due to cruelty concerns. Students say allowing this event demonstrates a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of animals in the university’s care.

Bearce, who also serves as the Fort Collins organizer for the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, noted the socially conditioned nature of the audience’s response. “It didn’t appear to bother anyone when screaming goats were pinned to the ground or when roped calves cried out. There’s a connection between that and the fact that we saw children dressed in cowboy hats and trying to lasso their friends. These children are taught from a very early age that this type of violent behavior is acceptable and even encouraged.”

The animal cruelty accusations come less than two weeks after CSU broke ground on the JBS Global Food Innovation Center, which students say is essentially an on-campus slaughterhouse and represents a major step backward.

"CSU likes to paint itself as a progressive, innovative school," says Joseph. "But when it comes to the treatment of animals, CSU is far from progressive. We know better than this now, but CSU seems to be forgetting what year we live in."