Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Bad To Chase Bunnies at the Rodeo?
June 13, 2013 Camilla Mortensen, Eugeneweekly.com
One bunny had a broken jaw and was missing its tail. Three more wound up at the home of a Cottage Grove employee after a co-worker said her kids couldn’t keep them. Heather Crippen of Red Barn Rabbit Rescue says that those were a few of the results of last year’s “animal scramble” at the Cottage Grove Rodeo.
Crippen started Red Barn with her daughter and runs the small rescue out of her farm in Creswell. She says with 50 rabbits already and a waiting list of 20 more, she wants to avoid more hurt and homeless bunnies. She has been asking the rodeo, which will take place July 12-13, to sponsor a different event for children. Rabbits are fragile and the event stresses, sickens and even kills them, she says. In the animal scramble last year, and at a recent one at Myrtle Creek in Douglas County, rabbits were tossed out of trailers or pickup trucks and into an arena where hordes of children were unleashed to chase and catch them.
Red Barn’s video of the 2012 scramble shows bunnies getting stepped on and, Crippen says, paralyzed with fear. If the kids catch a rabbit at the event, they keep it. An attendee at the Myrtle Creek scramble was reported to have said to his child, “You going to catch us a rabbit? Going to help dad butcher it?”
Crippen has offered to donate money to the Cottage Grove Riding Club (CGRC) for a different, animal-friendly event, such as one that hides money and prizes inside plastic eggs. The rodeo and scramble are a fundraiser for the riding club. At press time, the rescue’s offer has not been accepted. CGRC president Kelli Fisher says the event benefits the community and it gives children “the opportunity to experience raising their own animal.”
Red Barn has discovered that the scramble is subject to USDA regulations. “They have to get licensed and inspected,” Crippen says. “Many of the regulations are for the protection and safety of the rabbits.” And she says she was told the rodeo only recently applied for the license, so she’s not sure how they will get approved in time.
Crippen emailed the club in May, asking that this year’s event be removed, saying she has heard from PETA and other groups that want to protest the scramble. Crippen wrote that Red Barn has tried to discourage protest and “we prefer a professional approach to this disagreement.”
The riding club responded with a letter from attorney Milton E. Gifford, who alleges that Crippen’s email “threatened that there would be protests and picketing.” He tells her that she does “not have the right to videotape any portion of the rodeo” and calls her email “veiled threats” and says she will “be held personally liable for intentional interference with business relations.” Fisher says, “I and our board consider Red Barn and its members to be cruel, hurtful and a threat to our families.”
Scott Beckstead, Oregon director for the Humane Society of the United States, has been supporting Crippen’s efforts to end the scramble. He says, “It is our position that this event is inherently cruel to the rabbits, and promotes unhealthy attitudes about pet ownership by awarding live animals as ‘prizes.’ Rabbits are delicate, sensitive little creatures, and turning them loose in a rodeo arena to be chased by a throng of children subjects them to an unreasonable risk of terror, shock and injury.”
Beckstead says that rabbits are the third most common animal at shelters and humane societies, and events such as the scramble strain those resources. Crippen and Beckstead have met with Faye Stewart, the Lane County commissioner from Cottage Grove, and Crippen spoke to the County Commission on June 4 about her concerns over the animal scramble. Fisher says CGRC is working with the local Humane Society chapter to improve the event.
Comment: There were a number of remarks to this story, essentially expressing the same sentiments as Carmina’s: Inhumane, cruel, and heartless. It's no wonder kids grow up like they do. How about good old common sense like teaching compassion and respect for all beings?
Olga said: Working to IMPROVE the event? It can't be improved. It needs to be abolished. We concur. That these mindless events occur today is appalling. Another reader remarked that “perhaps we should pick those snotty kids up by their necks instead and toss them to their parents.” Some people just shouldn’t have kids.
Oregon cruelty statutes exclude rodeos. Rabbits are not considered rodeo animals.
Comment: “Barnyard scrambles” are held in many towns across the country and defended as “tradition” by such groups as the Riverdale Rodeo Association. Somehow this excuse is used as reason to continue cruelty and injustice. Unbelievably, the SPCA, an animal welfare organization that purports to ‘speak for animals’ doesn’t see such exploitation as inhumane.
The California Penal Code, however, makes it a misdemeanor to sell or give away "any live chicks, rabbits, ducklings, or other fowl as a prize for, or as an inducement to enter, any contest, game or other competition or as an inducement to enter a place of amusement or place of business." Misdemeanors are typically punishable by fines and jail time. Due to such legislation and the volume of complaints lodged against such events, they will thankfully be discontinued. Anybody listening, Cottage Grove?
July 3, 2013 Rabbits exempt from this year's Animal Scramble
Related news: August 12, 2017 It is a sad commentary of society and lack of humane leadership by adults that in 2017 rabbits and other animals are still exploited for entertainment. For instance, Tippah, MS County Fair organizers are still going ahead with the cruel and illegal rabbit scramble, despite strong opposition from animal advocacy organizations, such as In Defense of Animals and others, like our group, Rabbit Advocacy BC.