The following news release was published by SHARK on June 25th, 2013.
The news of the shut down appeared in this article, published June 23, 2013, in The Fresno Bee.
"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."
"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."
A young boy who was hurt during the mutton busting event
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