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Coleadero Rodeo: After animal deaths, PETA wants event canceled, & Jeffco commish agrees

Yesterday, we told you about the controversy over the Coleadero Rodeo, which is slated to take place at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Sunday even though eleven animals were hurt, and two had to be killed, following an event at the same venue on July 18. Now, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has written a letter to Jeffco officials calling for the rodeo's cancellation -- and commissioner Kathy Hartman would like to see the same thing.

In a report on this subject by Channel 31, which broke the story, Jeffco administrator Ralph Schell explained that county reps were allowing the rodeo to take place in part because breaking a contract with the promoters might result in significant liability. But Hartman points out that "not all three commissioners agreed. I am the dissenting vote."

According to Hartman, she and fellow commissioners Faye Griffin and Kevin McCasky took part in what she describes as "an informal supervision discussion" of the topic on Tuesday, "and two of the commissioners said, 'I don't want to cancel it' -- at which point that was the end of the discussion." In other words, the majority ruled.

Hartman understands that putting the kibosh on the rodeo might be expensive for the county. She notes that based on what county attorneys told the commissioners, "I would not be optimistic of us being exonerated from our contractual responsibilities."

But while there would be "some cost for us doing that," Hartman continues, "I thought it would be worth the cost."

She bases this conclusion on "the number of animals that were injured. It is obvious to me that this promoter has not done an adequate job of ensuring animal safety."

Thus far, Hartman's been contacted by a handful of constituents who agree, "but this is my take on it -- that this would be the right thing to do."

Hartman is included on the list of Jeffco officials addressed in PETA's letter about the rodeo. It reads as follows:

August 5, 2010

To: Ralph Schell, Jefferson County Administrator

Jefferson County Board of Commissioners

Cc: The Honorable Scott Storey, Jefferson County District Attorney's Office Ted Mink, Jefferson County Sheriff

From Kristin DeJournett, Senior Cruelty Caseworker, PETA

Re: Cruel rodeo activities in Jefferson County

Your urgent attention is requested. PETA is the world's largest animal rights organization, with more than 2 million members and supporters. This letter concerns the Coleadero Rodeo and its recent appearances at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Reportedly, county officials are allowing the rodeo to continue operating despite concerns that animals are being criminally abused. According to news sources, rodeo organizers have been charged with cruelty to animals after 11 cows were injured during a cow-tripping event last weekend. The cows reportedly had their tails ripped off and suffered torn skin and broken bones as rodeo participants attempted to bring the animals to the ground. Two of the cows reportedly had to be euthanized because of their injuries.

Often misleadingly defended under the banner of tradition, rodeos are a cruel form of "entertainment." Normally gentle animals are traumatized and provoked into "wild" behavior with the use of spurs, tail-twisting, electric prods, and straps cinched tightly around their abdomens. When animals used in rodeos are too old, tired, or injured to continue on the circuit, most end up in the slaughterhouse.

Jefferson County's efforts to maintain a sense of community should not come at the expense of animal welfare. We urge you to cancel the Coleadero Rodeo immediately and indefinitely. Jefferson County can thrive without such cruelty. Can we hear from you soon regarding this matter? I can be reached at 901-405-4371, by e-mail [email protected], or by fax at 757-628-0796. Thank you for your time and attention.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts