Welfare Concerns with Professional Bull Riding Events
On Friday, May 26, 2023, the Red River Exhibition Association is hosting a Professional Bull Riding Event (PBR). Bull riding events concern the Winnipeg Humane Society as they violate the 5 Freedoms necessary for animal welfare:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst by access to fresh water and appropriate diet
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by preventing or rapidly treating problems
- Freedom to express natural behaviour by providing sufficient space, facilities and company
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering
PBR Events violate Animal Welfare Pillars #2 and #4 by failing to provide environments to engage in natural behaviours, sufficient space, and comfortable resting areas.
PBR is a circuit event that hauls animals from city to city across North America. Bulls are forced to be continuously trailered and hauled unnaturally long distances across the US and Canada, with little to no opportunity to graze or access any land or pasture. They only know a life of parking lots, metal trailers, and loud stadiums.
PBR Events violate Animal Welfare Pillar #3 as bulls bred for the arena are at higher risk of physical disorders, may suffer catastrophic physical injury, and even die from being forced to partake in these events.
A 2017 study published by the AVMA states that: “bucking bulls were more likely than non-bucking bulls to develop horn and sinus disorders and musculoskeletal disorders of the vertebral region and pelvic limbs.” On top of that, bull riding events do not put the welfare and dignity of the animal first and have been frequently documented as causing catastrophic injuries and death.
PBR Events violate Animal Welfare Pillar #5 by inducing fear and distress in bulls, causing unnecessary mental suffering.
Bulls are selectively bred to be especially sensitive to negative stimulus. A rider on their back mimics the experience of a predator jumping onto them. In the arena, bulls feel under attack and buck to fight for their life.
The aggressive nature of bulls during rodeo performances is a direct consequence of the intention to annoy and provoke them by cinching a “flank strap” tight around their waist, violently kicking spurs into their sides, twisting their tails, and in some instances subjecting them to electric shock. Training for PBR events uses these and other negative reinforcement methods repeatedly, causing immense pain and suffering to the bulls, with no reprieve until the desired bucking behaviour is performed.
“Eye white” (an increase in the size of the white of the eye surrounding the pupil), is commonly seen in photos of bulls at PBR events, an indicator of fear and distress. A 2017 study published in Animal Behaviour & Cognition found a positive correlation between the amount of eye white visible, and the intensity of fear and distress experienced.
Inducing fear and putting animals at risk of injury and death for entertainment is cruel, outdated, and has no place in our city in 2023. We urge all to think about the animal’s perspective before attending events like this.
We encourage you to write to Mayor Gillingham and his councillors to cancel this event and ban future rodeo style events from taking place within city limits. You may use this Template Letter here.
Sources: Vancouver Humane Society, World Animal Protection Canada