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25 June 2013

SHARK Shuts Down Cruel Barnyard Scramble

The following news release was published by SHARK on June 25th, 2013.


We are pleased to announce that our campaign to shut down the cruel "barnyard scramble," which happened at the Riverdale Rodeo in Riverdale, California, is an unqualified success! This event, where dozens of young animals are thrown into a horde or rampaging children, can be seen in the following SHARK video (click on the picture to watch the video).

children and animals in cruel barnyard scramble
The news of the shut down appeared in this article, published June 23, 2013, in The Fresno Bee.

The following are excerpts from the article:

"Video of 'scramble' at Riverdale Rodeo ignites animal-rights concern."

"A video posted online by an animal rights group is sparking a modest barrage of concern and complaints over a "barnyard scramble" for children at last month's Riverdale Rodeo.

In response to the complaints, and the possibility that a state law prohibiting such events might have been broken, rodeo officials will stop conducting scramble events, a Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

The scramble is an event in which chickens, ducklings, rabbits, piglets and kid goats are set loose in an arena to be chased and captured by children, from toddlers to pre-teens. If a child catches a critter, it's his or hers to keep."

"Steve Hindi, president of Illinois-based SHARKonline.org — the acronym stands for SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness — and another member visited Riverdale with video cameras on May 5.

"We've seen these kinds of things before," he said. "We certainly think they are bad for the animals, and it sends a really bad message to children about how to treat animals."

The five-minute video shows rodeo organizers tossing animals out of trailers and containers onto the arena floor before children are turned loose to chase them. Segments show a young boy grabbing a baby duck by one wing before an adult takes the bird by the neck to return it to a box; a boy lugging a baby goat in a bear hug across the dirt; a rabbit frantically squirming in the arms of a little girl; and chickens and ducklings nearly being stepped on by eager children."

SHARK goes beyond just documenting the cruelty. Once we had the evidence in hand, SHARK Investigator Mike Kobliska researched California law and found out that the scramble itself was illegal.

"In addition to concerns over whether the scramble is cruel to animals, there may be legal questions over the practice as well. The California Penal Code 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.

Hindi said SHARK provided the video to the Fresno County District Attorney's Office and believed it had been forwarded to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. He added that he has not been notified whether an investigation is being conducted.

Sheriff's spokesman Chris Curtice said the scramble was investigated. "When our detectives contacted Riverdale Rodeo officials about it, they had no idea they were doing anything wrong and agreed to discontinue the event," Curtice said in an email Friday. "Also, charges are misdemeanors and we cannot cite an entity, (Riverdale Rodeo Association). Right now it appears that educating them worked."

The final paragraph of the story dealt with the fact that SHARK contacted the Central California SPCA, and they did nothing. Even worse, the SPCA spokeswoman said "we haven't been provided with any evidence of anything inhumane or illegal with that situation."

Any reasonable person who watches the video will see cruelty. You'd actually have to work hard to ignore it, yet that is what that SPCA chose to do. That the scramble was shut down without their assistance says a lot about their worth. Let's hope that supporters of the Central California SPCA send a message that their job is to enforce animal cruelty laws, not shield a local rodeo from the law.

Please politely contact the Central California SPCA and ask them to watch the video again and then file cruelty charges against the Riverdale Rodeo.


• We would also like to recognize and thank two animal sanctuaries who helped enormously in shutting down the scramble. After watching the SHARK video, both the Gentle Blessings Animal Sanctuary and the Red Barn Rabbit Rescue not only provided us with expert opinion on the handling of the animals at the rodeo scrambles but asked their members to call and email those responsible. The Red Barn Rabbit Rescue initiated a petition to the local paper, the Fresno Bee and over 300 emails were generated to complain which culminated in the paper covering a story on the issue. Gentle Blessings Animal Sanctuary members were instrumental in helping to shut down the scramble. They were so outraged they emailed and called those responsible also helping enormously to bring attention to this and forcing authorities to investigate. By working together we can make great changes for the animals!

It isn't only animals who suffered at the Riverdale Rodeo. In this video, watch how children are abused and suffer from the ridiculous "Mutton Busting" events.

child injured in barnyard scramble

A young boy who was hurt during the mutton busting event

Kindest Regards,
Steve Hindi and Your SHARK Team

"Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting and rodeos are all cut from the same fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves."
- Cesar Chavez, civil rights and labor leader, founder of the United Farm Workers


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