BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — A lawsuit, filed last week against Boone County, accuses the county of not enforcing animal cruelty laws against Mexican-style rodeos that take place on private property.
UIC Assistant Law Professor Conley Wouters filed the lawsuit on behalf of the animal rights group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), which has used drones to record footage of alleged animal abuse taking place on property in Boone County.
Cameras captured what appeared to be injured steers and competitors slapping and whipping their horses.
“In addition to tailings, SHARK investigators took videos and photographs of La Charreada rodeo riders degloving, or ripping the entire skin sheath and skirt/mane off of animals’ tails as the animals are thrown to the ground. In some cases, La Charreada riders wave the tail remnants in the air as a sign of victory,” the suit claims. “With each rodeo ride, Boone County La Charreada riders whip their horses and beat them, causing extreme distress and obvious cruelty to rodeo horses used in the events.”
Steer-tailing is a rodeo event where a mounted rider pursues a young bull down a narrow track and drags it to the ground by the tail.
It is a key part of a Mexican rodeo, or charrería, a sport that dates to the 16th century.
According to the lawsuit, the Mexican Federation of Charreria, “the official governing body for La Charreada events and publishes its own rules and regulations,” which includes “Essential Rules Governing the Proper Care and the Humane Treatment of Animals at Sanctioned Charreadas in the United States of America,” condemns “all inhumane treatment of animals and sanctions any charro or charra who intentionally harasses, uses unnecessary roughness and/or abuses an animal before, during or after a Charreada performance.”
The event is legal in Illinois as long as the competition follows Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rules, which require animals to be treated humanely and receive veterinarian care.
The zoning ordinance prohibits “events that cause the intentional harm of an animal or are in violation of the Animal Welfare Act and the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit goes on to say, “The zoning enforcement officer cannot issue a permit if the event requires the performance of a prohibited act of cruelty, would cause the intentional harm of an animal, or would violate state animal welfare and animal cruelty laws.”
The suit says that it seeks “a writ of mandamus compelling Defendants to adhere to the zoning ordinance,” for failing to hold hearings to appeal the temporary use permits for the rodeos, which it alleges is a violation of the zoning ordinance.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who wrote the Illinois Animal Torture Statute, filed an emergency temporary restraining order against the Horseman Association Club of the North of Joliet, after seeing videos of a similar nature from a rodeo that took place there, according to WGN.