In last week’s issue (9/20), you chose to highlight the Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo in the City Lights section. This exclusively African-American rodeo, meant to represent and honor black cowboys and cowgirls, is nothing more than animal exploitation for entertainment.
Rodeo animals are captive performers. They are provoked with sharp sticks, electric prods, and other torturous devices into acting “wild.” Animals buck because the “flank straps” or “bucking straps” are cinched tightly around their abdomens, causing great pain and irritation. Calves used in calf-roping often suffer neck and back injuries, bruises, broken bones, and internal hemorrhages—and these animals rarely, if ever, receive any veterinary care.
While the place of the cowboy—whether African-American or Caucasian—must be recognized in history, it does not need to be relived. I hope you folks at the Washington City Paper will be more compassionate the next time you have the choice between promoting animal abuse and speaking out against it.
While people may have a fun time at the rodeo, we must remember that it is the animals who suffer. We must remember that we always have a choice about whether or not to attend a rodeo. The animals do not.
Chevy Chase, Md.