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Animal welfare issues at the California State Fair

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, August 7th, 2008 at 6:29 am in California State Fair, Rodeo animals.

My friend Eric Mills, coordinator for ACTION FOR ANIMALS in Oakland, asked me to pass along the following letter he wrote about some animal welfare concerns he has at CALEXPO which begins on Aug. 15.

Eric is the champion defender of the safety of rodeo animals … and also, whether they believe it or not, of rodeo cowboys.

The California State Fair begins August 15 and runs through September 1. Some animal welfare issues remain unresolved at CALEXPO.

At the 2004 Fair, a rodeo bull suffered a broken back when struck by a mechanical contraption called the “Cowboy Teeter-totter.”

No, the animal was simply trucked off to the Flying U Rodeo’s Marysville ranch, where he was shot to death the next day. Not acceptable! Ever since, animal protectionists have been pressuring CALEXPO to adopt an immediate, on-site euthanasia policy for fatally-injured rodeo animals, as so determined by the attending veterinarian. Seems little to ask.

Reportedly, County and City Animal Control Officers will monitor this year’s rodeo, and they have the authority to confiscate injured animals.

At the 2007 Fair, two Mexican fighting bulls escaped their pen, knocked a heroic security guard into a coma, broke her ribs, trampled a horse, and nearly trampled a bunch of kids.

These animals were to be used in yet another nonsensical event called “Bull Poker,” in which 4 or 5 cowboys sit around a card table, and bear the brunt of the charging bull. Last man sitting wins the jackpot. A man was killed in this event at a Kentucky rodeo recently, and his widow and three orphans are suing the fairgrounds for millions.

Both of these events should be banned outright, of course, for the protection of animals and cowboys alike. Neither is sanctioned by the PRCA.

On August 16 & 17, the fair features two nights of “Bull Fest” (6:45-7:45 p.m.), with six bull rides, plus the inane and dangerous “Cowboy Poker” event.

Please contact CALEXPO to express your concerns.

Norbert Bartosik, CEO (; Board of Directors, Marko Mlikotin, Chair (, tel. 916-263-3000.

Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS, P.O. Box 20184, Oakland, CA 94620 (510-652-5603)

Dear readers:
Please let the CALEXPO folks know how you feel about this. Thanks for caring. /Gary

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5 Responses to “Animal welfare issues at the California State Fair”

  1. lorrie grimes Says:


    We have a dove that has decided to live in one of the trees in the yard. There is not a nest and we think it may be sick because it does not leave the tree very often…plus there is a huge amount of droppings under it on our patio, of course our patio furniture is right under its ‘spot’! Should we be concerned with the droppings carrying west nile? We have our two dogs plus our daughters 2 living here right now and want to make sure they are all safe. We also think it has started to peel the bark off other branches of the same tree, big strips of it, 2 inches wide and a good 4 inches long but that might be the squirrels in the yard, which is a whole other letter, they are making Hayey and Willie crazy!!! Our daughters dogs are much better behaved than ours and could care less about those squirrels.

    LOrrie Grimes


  2. Gary Bogue Says:

    Doves spend a LOT of time just sitting on favorite perches. Nothing to worry about with those droppings and West Nile. West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes that pass along the virus when they bite you. So make sure you don’t have any standing water around for mosquitoes to breed in.
    The dove is also not peeling bark off the tree branches. It’s impossible for them to do this. It has to be squirrels. /Gary

  3. Maggie Says:

    The rodeo is a sickening excuse for “sport.” There is no sport involved. I appreciate Eric’s on-going work. It’s kind of embarrassing that California condones this kind of animal abuse at an official event.

  4. Janet Says:

    I also appreciate Eric’s eye opening work for these poor animals, I agree what kind of sport is this? They animals deserve to be put to sleep as any other animal BULL or not…………Hopfully the word gets out before the fair and they will have advocates availabile for there needs…..It’s a shame and only we can have a voice for these animals. Stop the unnessary pain for these animals its only fair in this vilant world we live in……..Pray for these animals and hope nothing happens this week end at the fair. What a nice thing for familys to see at a family event a Bull having its back broke from a human being error Here’s hoping there is a LOVE for Animals and this will stop!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for listening Janet

  5. Diana Tiernan Says:

    Hi Gary,
    You may remember me from many (many) years back at Monterey SPCA. We now live in NE Oregon.
    Can you help publicize the plight of wolves in Idaho. Please.
    They are not only being hunted for ‘sport’ but now by Fish and Wildlife from helicopters.
    The governor needs pressure regarding the 7 month season that the IDFG “Death Panel” as the Commissioners are now called, put into force last week. No other wildlife is hunted when they are are about to give birth, or caring for week old young. Alpha female wolves return to their traditional den sites in March – sites that are WELL KNOWN & where hunters will be able to kill entire packs. This has no place in a civilized society.

    Wolves could bring millions to Idaho in tourism dollars, instead, tourists are staying away from places like Stanley, afraid to go hiking because a crazed wolf hunter may shoot their dog. I am boycotting all anti-wolf businesses and esp. any big game outfitter who hunts wolves. I will not use such outfitters for trail rides or pack trips anymore. Stop the hunt – it’s giving Idaho a bad name, in the tradition of the Mud Lake bunny boppers.
    lease take a moment and make one call to help wolves!

    Please call Governor Butch Otter and leave a message with the clerk, protesting the wolf hunt, especially the fact it will now last for SEVEN MONTHS – to March 31, 2010 – in all areas of the state. This decision was made by the seven IDFG Commissioners (the Death Panel) last week. We must voice strong opposition to this latest attack on wolves.



    Some ideas on points to mention:

    – your support for wolves
    – protest the wolf hunt, it’s based on politics and not science
    – wolves could bring tourism dollars to Idaho
    – you like watching wolves & are being robbed of this opportunity
    – the 7 month wolf hunt means alpha female wolves about to have pups will be killed near their den sites
    – no other big game species is hunted during the time they are giving birth and have new young
    – the wolf hunt is a black eye on Idaho
    If you need more info let me know.

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