By: Staff  Date: 01/15/2012 Category: | Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare | Farm and Ranch Almanac |


By Cindy Schonholtz
Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association

Animal rights activists videotaped the San Dimas Rodeo in October, 2002, then used the tape to charge stock contractor John Growney with cruelty to animals.

Growney, a contractor with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, proved his innocence in the resulting court case.

Activists from the animal rights group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness videotaped action at the San Dimas Rodeo and turned it over to the Inland Valley Humane Society with a claim that the video contained evidence that a cattle prod was illegally used on animals. The humane society reviewed the tape and then turned it over to the district attorney for a final decision on whether or not to issue a citation. The district attorney decided to ask the humane society to cite Growney for four counts of violation of the penal code relating to the use of the cattle prod on animals at rodeos in California.

California law states: “The rodeo management shall ensure that no electric prod or similar device is used on any animal once the animal is in the holding chute, unless necessary to protect the participants and spectators of the rodeo.”

The humane society and the district attorney offered Growney a few plea bargains, but he chose to go to court and prove his innocence.

After the assistant district attorney presented her case, the judge promptly dismissed two of the four counts because the videotape did not clearly show that the cattle prod even came in contact with the two bucking horses on the tape.

The two horses associated with the final two counts were chute-stalling horses (horses that won’t exit the chute gate when it is opened). The footage was backed by tape obtained from Adelphia the San Dimas Committee. The footage established that the use of the cattle prod was necessary to protect the participants (the rider and the horse) and the spectators (those standing on the back of the chutes near the horse).

Rodeo judge Steve Yoast and Calvin Kubluk, DVM, testified for the defense. Yoast, who officiated at the 2002 San Dimas Rodeo, said he had been consulted before the rodeo about the horse involved in the first of the final two counts. The horse had shown a propensity to stall, he said, and it was agreed the use of the prod was needed for the safety of the participants and spectators.

The Adelphia tape showed the horse on the second of the remaining counts stall when the chute gate was opened, the gate was shut and the prod was used in the second attempt and the horse and rider safely exited the chute. Steve testified to the fact that it was agreed before the rodeo that they would try this particular horse once and if the horse stalled, the prod would be applied for the safety of all involved. Dr. Kobluk then finished the case by providing expert testimony on the behavior of horses and why the use of the cattle prod on chute-stalling horses is clearly used for the protection of all involved and in addition helps modify the behavior of the horses in the future. He also testified that the horses were given an open gate and clear path to safely exit the chute before the prod was applied.

The witness testimony established that the prod was not used on the horses when in the holding chute, because the gate was clearly open when the prod was applied to the animal, therefore it was not a holding chute. After the judge heard the defense arguments and closing statements by defense attorney Rollin Raushal and the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case the judge clearly reiterated the evidence given by the defense and stated that John was not guilty on the two remaining counts.

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All Authors Of This Article: | Cindy Schonholtz |
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