For Immediate Release:
August 2, 2021
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Oakley, Idaho – This morning, in response to a now-viral incident in which people blasted Roman candles inside an arena during the Pioneer Days Rodeo in Oakley, causing terrified cows to run frantically in circles as flaming projectiles hit them, PETA sent an urgent letter to Cassia County Prosecuting Attorney McCord Larsen and Sheriff George Warrell calling on them to investigate. The group wants criminal cruelty-to-animals charges filed against those responsible and a ban on the rodeo’s longstanding use of pyrotechnics to terrify cows.
“Rodeos are traumatic and dangerous enough for animals even without the use of fireworks to whip the animals into a frenzy for the enjoyment of the crowd,” says PETA Senior Director of Cruelty Casework Stephanie Bell. “PETA is calling on officials to ensure that those responsible for tormenting these animals are held accountable and on the public to avoid this abusive spectacle like the plague.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Larsen and Warrell follows.
August 2, 2021
To: The Honorable McCord Larsen, Cassia County Prosecuting Attorney
The Honorable George Warrell, Sheriff of Cassia County
From: Kristin Rickman, Emergency Response Division Manager, PETA
Re: Cruelty to Animals at Oakley Pioneer Days Rodeo
Your urgent attention is respectfully requested.
Greetings from PETA. We’re writing concerning a now-viral incident at this year’s Oakley Pioneer Days Rodeo, during which audience members, participants, and, according to one reporter, possibly even rodeo board members were captured on video blasting Roman candles into an arena full of humans and other animals in the midst of a “wild cow riding” event. Indeed, horrific footage documents that cows frantically flailed and ran in circles as they desperately tried to evade countless flaming projectiles, many of which appeared to be aimed directly at them. Some even bounced off their heads and bodies. Rodeo board member Cache Taylor stated in a media interview that the fireworks have been a regular part of the show for years, used with the intent to make the cows “more wild”—in other words, to torment and terrify the animals into panicking. He also indicated that “problems” with individuals who have shot fireworks at cows have occurred for “the last couple of years.” This video of the annual event uploaded to YouTube in 2011 shows firecrackers being set off right at the animals’ feet as they exited the stalls and airborne fireworks being shot just above the animals.
Idaho Code Section § 25-3504 prohibits anyone from treating an animal cruelly, and Section § 25-3502 defines cruelty as “maliciously … torment[ing] … an animal” or “subject[ing] an animal to needless suffering or inflict[ing] unnecessary cruelty.” We respectfully request an investigation into this matter. Responsible parties should be identified, and criminal charges, including cruelty to animals, should be filed as merited. We also ask that rodeo organizers be ordered to prohibit the use of pyrotechnics at these events, which are hard enough on these animals as it is.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this disturbing matter. May we please hear back soon?
Emergency Response Division Manager
Cruelty Investigations Department