Animal Entertainment Is a Life Threatening Pastime
Every year, thousands of greyhounds, calves, and cows suffer agonizing deaths due to the unjust and cruel practices of dog racing and rodeos. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, states that nineteen greyhound tracks are open and operating in the United States today. Greyhounds are forced to race around a track and suffer from serious injuries as a result of the harsh training humans put these animals through. Besides suffering from physical injuries, greyhounds experience emotional trauma as well. Racing greyhounds are confined in their cages for most of their lives and are rarely allowed outside.
Similar to greyhound racing, in rodeos, cows and calves are forced to participate in abusive challenges to entertain a crowd full of people. Humans use tools such as electric prods within these challenges to provoke a dramatic reaction out of the animals. The Animal Legal Defense Fund explains that the tools used can seriously harm the animals. Because of the cruel treatment of greyhounds and the abuse cows face, greyhound racing and rodeos should be made illegal. Greyhounds that are forced to participate in dog racing are neglected and suffer from serious injuries as a result.
GREY2K USA, the largest greyhound protection organization in the world, claims that racing greyhounds “endure lives of terrible confinement. They live inside warehouse-style kennels in rows of stacked cages that are barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. They are confined for long hours each day, with shredded paper or carpet remnants as bedding” (“Greyhound Racing in the United States” 1). Racing greyhounds experience inadequate living conditions and are subject to a life of confinement. The greyhounds are only let of their cages a few times per day to relieve themselves.
These turn-outs account for only three to five hours per day. A few times per month, the greyhounds are taken from their cages to participate in races (“Greyhound Racing in the United States” 1). Before the race starts, greyhounds are draped in a blanket with their race number on it, and a muzzle is attached to their snouts. A lure is set up to coax the animals into racing. The lure, a large electric motor on wheels, is attached to the guard rail and sticks out over the racing area. At the end of the lure is a stuffed animal or a dog bone.
The lure is controlled to move a certain pace along with the greyhounds as they race. Most American greyhound racing tracks are exactly one-fourth of a mile, four hundred and forty yards. A camera precisely aimed at the finish line determines the winner of the race (Gray 4-5). These strenuous racing conditions contribute to the rise in injuries related to greyhound racing. Some of the most common injuries include broken legs, cardiac arrest, spinal cord paralysis, and broken necks. Most greyhounds live to be thirteen years or older, but many retire within only eighteen months because they are deemed unfit to race after an injury.
Once racing greyhounds retire, some are sent to rescue groups, while others are returned to breeding facilities for breeding stock. The greyhounds that are deemed unworthy of breeding stock are sent off to be slaughtered (“Animal Cruelty: Greyhound Racing” 1). Because of the poor living conditions and strenuous races greyhounds face, racing greyhounds endure serious injuries. Cows used for entertainment in rodeos experience intense abuse that can potentially lead to life-threatening injuries. The more aggressive these animals appear in a rodeo, the more entertaining the rodeo is for the viewer. Rodeos use various tools such as electric prods to provoke a reaction out of the animals.
The “hotshot” is an electric prod used on the cow before the cow is released into the ring. The intense pain scares the cow, causing dramatic reactions. Metal spurs are also used on cows. Worn on a rider’s boot, the metal spurs dig into a cow’s abdomen and groin area causing the cow to buck. Bucking occurs when cows kick up their back legs high into the air. Bucking can lead to serious back and leg injuries (“Rodeo Facts: A Case Against Rodeos” 1).
Another way cows suffer abuse is through the many different events included in rodeos. The most common events are calf-roping, steer busting, steer wrestling, and bull riding. In calf-roping, a three to four month old calf is tormented before being released into a large ring. A mounted rider lassoes the calf and yanks him into the air by its neck. The rider slams the calf into the ground and ties his legs together, immobilizing the calf.
Frequently during this event, “calves may cry out (if they can breathe), defecate from fear and stress, suffer neck and back injuries, may become paralyzed, suffer from internal hemorrhaging, have their tracheas severed, or die” (“Unseen Abuse” 1). In this event, riders are intentionally debilitating baby animals for sport. Steer busting occurs when a ride provokes a steer, or a castrated bull, with such force that the animal flips into the air. Commonly, steers have their heads and necks violently twisted, causing fractured horns, hip sores, and death (“Unseen Abuse” 1). Steer wrestling is quite similar to steer busting. In steer wrestling, a mounted rider chases a steer, grabs ahold of the steer’s horns, twists the animal’s neck, and slams him to the ground.
These steers suffer from broken bones and necks, torn ligaments, severed spinal cords, and internal bleeding. Finally, bull riding happens when “an adjustable belt called a bucking strap is placed around the animal’s flank. The contestant tightens the belt, which pinches the animal’s groin and genitals, causing him to buck from the pain” (“Unseen Abuse” 1). These animals are tortured while a rider attempts to hang onto the animal’s back. Cows endure grievous injuries in rodeos for the mere sense of entertainment and pleasure. Although opponents argue that greyhound races and rodeos are ethical because animals do not feel pain, scientific research proves that animals feel pain just as humans do.
There are many tell-tale behavioral signs that humans exhibit when experiencing pain: writhing, facial contortions, moaning, yelping, avoiding the source of pain, et cetera (Singer 10). These external signs are also evident in other species, especially mammals which are most similar to humans. Additionally, scientific proof shows that animals have nervous systems quite similar to humans. When experiencing pain, the nervous system responds physiologically with reactions such as a rise in blood pressure, dilated pupils, perspiration, and increased pulse rate (Singer 10). This nervous system response in humans is also evident in animals. Some also argue that humans have a more developed brain than animals, which is why humans experience pain and animals do not.
Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher, argues that “although human beings have a more developed cerebral cortex than other animals, this part of the brain is concerned with thinking functions rather than with basic impulses, emotions, and feelings. These impulses, emotions, and feelings are located in the diencephalon, which is well developed in many other species of animals, especially mammals and birds” (Singer 11). Singer explains that the part of the brain that establishes a sense of pain is similar in both humans and many animals, including mammals. This research proves that despite many arguments, scientific evidence concludes that animals feel pain very similarly to humans. Greyhound racing and rodeos should be illegal because of the harsh treatment the greyhounds and cows endure.
Racing greyhounds are subject to a life of confinement, only allowed a few hours per day to venture outside. The arduous racing environment and the neglectful living conditions these greyhounds face are contributing factors to they injuries they endure. Likewise, cows used for entertainment in rodeos are often abused. Electric prods and metal spurs are just two of the many tools used against cows that inflict severe pain in order to provoke a dramatic reaction from the animal. Events such as calf-roping, steer busting and wrestling, and bull riding are common events in rodeos where cows are severely abused for pure entertainment purposes.
Many argue that animals do not experience pain in the way humans do, therefore these types of entertainment are justified. However, philosopher Peter Singer goes into great detail explaining the internal similarities between humans and animals. Both humans and animals have exhibit similar behavioral signs when experiencing pain. Singer also describes how alike the human and animal nervous systems are. This research proves that animals and humans experience pain in the same way. Animals should not be used to participate in the entertainment industry because of the cruelty and abuse the animals face.