A ruptured diaphragm. Fractured vertebrae. Gored in any possible body part (including ones where the sun typically doesn’t shine). These are just some of the risks that humans face when they participate in a bull run, an event where hundreds of people run from a group (up to a dozen) of bulls in a confined area, hoping to avoid being trampled or worse. The bulls don’t have a good time, either. Aside from the stress of such a nonsensical event, they are sometimes killed in bullfights after the run. This event that is best known for occurring in Spain is on its way to America.
On August 24th, the first of The Great Bull Run will be happening in Richmond, Virginia. Georgia, Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania also have bull runs planned. Around 5,000 participants are signed up to run in the inaugural run in Richmond, and numbers are increasing. The Georgia run is scheduled for October, and over 2,000 people have signed up thus far. Rob Dickens, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run, expects that number to reach 5,000-7,000. Despite the high registration numbers, there are lots of people who are unhappy about this event coming to the United States, and for good reason.
Ann Chynoweth, senior director of The Humane Society of the United States’ End Animal Fighting & Cruelty Campaign, said it best when she told the Associated Press, “These events are a shameful example of cruelty for the sake of nothing more than entertainment and profit. These companies put the health and safety of both humans and animals at risk, without the required federal oversight.”
Dickens says that The Great Bull Run in the States is different and safer than the Pamplona event. He says the organizers are “wholly committed to the health and safety of the animals we work with.” He elaborates that, unlike Spain, the bulls aren’t killed in bullfights; they aren’t deprived of food, water, or sunlight; and a veterinarian is on site during the event. Safety precautions for the runners include larger running space, runners and bulls released in waves (for a “better opportunity to complete the course safely”), and adding nooks and crannies for runners to run in to get out of a bull’s way.
But really, wouldn’t the safest thing for the bulls be to NOT force them into such an event? Wouldn’t the safest thing for the runners be to NOT sign up to be chased by bulls? Wouldn’t it show more respect for animals to NOT use them for entertainment? The organizers can say what they wish about their commitment to animal health and safety, but a louder message rings through: if they REALLY cared about animals, they would get into a completely different sort of business.
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