Animal rights activists suspected in release of rodeo livestock

By: Staff  Date: 01/16/2012 Category: | Animal Rights Extremism |

In the early hours of August 9, 1999, the tranquility of the Washtenaw County Fairgrounds in Saline, Michigan, was interrupted. Vandals cut a hole in an eight-foot high chain link fence releasing 29 bucking horses belonging to the J Bar J Rodeo Company. The horses wandered the streets before running through Travis Point Golf Course, causing more than $10,000 in damage. They proceeded down Pleasant Lake Road where they were holding up traffic. After apparently being spooked by the lights of an oncoming Jeep Wrangler driven by Manchester Township resident David Novess, the horses took off and trampled over the top of Novess' vehicle. Luckily, Novess had seen the light reflecting from the horses' eyes and slowed down considerably.

"It was like a wall of horses coming at me at a dead gallop," Novess later commented. "Hitting deer is like Sister Sue's kiddie car ride compared to this. I'm surprised the Jeep stayed upright - that's how much rocking and rolling was going on."

Luckily for Novess, who might have had a hard time explaining the damage to his insurance agent, his agent serves on the Saline Rodeo Committee and was familiar with the accident.

After trampling the Jeep, the horses proceeded across a corn and bean field causing around $2500 damage to the fields soaked by more than five inches of rain. Six horses then became stuck in a bog; four were able to free themselves, but two horses remained buried in mud up to their backs. Rodeo personnel had to hold the horses heads up to keep them from drowning while waiting for help. They rigged a come-along type device to pull the horses to safety. The two horses, Skoal's Depression and Copenhagen Jet Stream, are prized bucking horses that have received the highest honor in rodeo by being chosen to buck at the National Finals Rodeo. Only the top bucking horses in the nation are given that honor and National Finals Rodeo bucking horses routinely sell for upwards of $10,000. Sergeant Roy Mays of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department stated on a television news broadcast he felt sure the animals rights activists were responsible.

"Letting them loose where they (the horses) mix with cars, that is not humane at all," he said.

If apprehended, the perpetrators could face several criminal charges including destruction of property and cruelty to animals. The rodeo was picketed on Saturday and Sunday, but an organizer of the protest denied knowledge of the fence-cutting. Maggie Zinser, an owner of J Bar J Rodeo Company, said that the protestors were especially vocal and profane, yelling obscenities at rodeo personnel.

Although the horses were injured, they should heal and be fine, according to Zinser.

"They're tough. Rodeo animals don't give up under those circumstances," Zinser said.

Rodeo announcer Cotton Yancey commented on the incident and on animal rights protesters. "They can have their opinions," he said, "but don't mess with our animals."

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All Authors Of This Article: | Cindy Schonholtz |
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