PETA, Animal Legal Defense Fund Sue to Stop Dangerous and Illegal California Great Bull Runs

Animal Groups Warn of Ongoing Injuries, Cruelty during “Extreme Sporting” Events

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Riverside, Calif. – This morning, the national nonprofits People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the Great Bull Run and the Lone Star Rodeo in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit aims to stop the Great Bull Run events currently scheduled in Southern and Northern California this summer—on June 21 at Temecula Downs Events Center in Riverside County and July 26 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Northern California (a bull run was previously scheduled for Lake Elsinore, Calif. but was not permitted, out of concern for public health and safety). This case is the first lawsuit filed to stop the Great Bull Run, which has received widespread outcry across the United States. According to the lawsuit, these events violate California’s anti-cruelty law and Unfair Competition Law.

During the Great Bull Run, organizers send as many as three dozen panicked bulls, weighing nearly one ton each, barreling down a narrow track at up to thirty-five miles per hour, chasing fleeing runners—many of whom have been drinking alcohol. Not surprisingly, three previous Great Bull Run events have sent participants to the hospital. Furthermore, veterinary experts have concluded that the event causes unnecessary suffering and stress to the animals. “As a bovine veterinarian, I can confirm that this event is extremely stressful for the bulls and presents substantial risk of injury to them, as well as an enormous public safety risk to the humans participating,” said Dr. Holly Cheever, veterinarian and vice president of the New York State Humane Association.

California’s Penal Code makes it unlawful to cause any bull to fight with a human or to subject any animal to needless suffering, which bull runs do. California also bans the promotion and exhibition of bulls in “bloodless bullfights” and similar events, which ALDF and PETA contend includes the Great Bull Run.  ALDF and PETA are asking the court to stop the events.

“Kind people around the world realize that it’s cruel to force panicked animals to careen through a track, trampling runners and potentially injuring themselves in the process,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “This event is unsafe, unsporting, and un-American—and, in the state of California, PETA contends it is also illegal.”

“These events show great disregard for animal welfare in pursuit of a cheap thrill and a profit,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “For the well-being of the bulls, as well as the safety of the public, we are asking the court to stop the Great Bull Run.”

ALDF and PETA are represented by in-house counsel and the law firm Evans & Page.

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit

Founded in 1980, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters. PETA works through public education, investigative newsgathering and reporting, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns. For more information, please visit

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind