By Crescenzo Vellucci
The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SAN DIEGO, CA – A San Diego Superior Court judge here Tuesday cleared his calendar and set a Dec. 14 date to hear arguments for a temporary restraining order to prevent alleged animal abuse in San Diego’s first rodeo since the 1980s.
Judge Joel Wohlfeil ordered the TRO hearing after a lawsuit was filed by Animal Protection and Rescue League and Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, who claim in their legal filing the rodeo company conducting the event, C5 Rodeo, “utilizes electric prods and similar devices to shock animals.”
The San Diego Rodeo is planned for Jan. 12-14, but Bryan Pease, the San Diego attorney who filed the action on behalf of the groups, said, “Rodeos tie tight bucking straps around their (rodeo animals) abdomens and then they often actually shock the horses…that’s why they’re bucking wildly and they sometimes fall down.”
Pease’s lawsuit also alleges the Padres and C5 Rodeo “are violating San Diego’s municipal code which prohibits non-service animals from being at Petco Park during a Padres event.”
“They haven’t sought any sort of special exemption or anything. They just plan to go ahead with bringing farm animals into Petco park so that men can chase them around and wrestle and lasso them and electric shock them, which is actually how the so-called bucking broncos end up acting the way they do,” Pease said.
Pease has authored a resolution calling for the city to “pass an ordinance banning electric devices at rodeos. The resolution calls for San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria to deny an event permit for the January
The lawsuit claims defendants Rodeo Mt, LLLP and C5 Rodeo Company hold rodeos throughout the U.S. and have been “repeatedly caught illegally shocking tame horses while they are in the chutes just prior to releasing them with a tight ‘bucking strap’ around their lower abdomens, in order to cause the horses to buck wildly, giving these tame, domesticated horses the appearance of being wild, ‘bucking broncos.’”
The pleading also charges a “humane” group hired by the city can’t be trusted, and at least one of the principals in the group being sued has conducted questionable business practices.
The suit alleges the city of San Diego “cannot be relied upon to enforce animal cruelty laws” because “it has contracted its animal services responsibilities out to San Diego Humane Society…which has proven itself inept and unwilling to enforce basic animal cruelty laws when it comes to rodeos and other profit-driven enterprises.”
The complaint notes it was “only because of a lawsuit brought by APRL and SHARK in 2019 that the Poway Rodeo stopped illegally using shocking devices, which SD Humane had wrongfully stated in 2018 it could do nothing about, despite also being in charge of humane law enforcement in Poway,” adding SD Humane has also “failed to enforce other animal cruelty laws against businesses,” including illegal puppy stores, illegal fireworks over a sea lion rookery in La Jolla, among others cited.
The lawsuit also claims defendant Padres, L.P. managing member Peter Seidler, who has a net worth of $3 billion, believes he is “above the law and will instruct Defendants to not comply with the laws outlined in this complaint unless the Court specifically orders Defendants to do so.”
The suit argues “Seidler is also notorious for running small businesses into the ground to increase profits,” including insisted a pregnant small business owner fly across the country to sit for a two-day deposition despite being in a high-risk pregnancy, which then resulted in a miscarriage. (https://nypost.com/2023/09/03/billionaire-padres-owner-peter-seidler-accused-of-bullying-small-business-owners/).”
The complaint also states the rodeo violates city codes because the codes don’t “contemplate holding events involving animals in and around PETCO Park, or in the Ballpark District, which includes PETCO Park and surrounding areas,” including loading the animals in and around sidewalks and other walkways near the park.
Attorney Pease said, in the lawsuit he submitted, “Turning farm animals loose in PETCO Park so that rodeo participants can chase them down with lassos and by grabbing their tails, wrestle them to the ground, and tie their legs together,” also violate municipal codes SDMC §63.0102(c)(2).
“Defendants intend to use animal torture devices including electric prods, shocking devices, flank or bucking straps, wire tiedowns, sharpened or fixed spurs, rowels, and lassos in order to “wound, disturb, or maltreat” animals for entertainment. Defendants also plan to engage in acts that are likely to result in killing animals due to the injuries they will sustain,” the suit adds.
C5 Rodeo routinely violates California law, the pleading contends, claiming evidence – provided by SHARK – that documented C5 shocking animals in an Oakdale rodeo, causing injuries in Red Bluff, calling “not aberrations but rather standard operating procedure for C5 Rodeo and demonstrate the manner in which C5 Rodeo plans to conduct its rodeo at PETCO Park.”
SHARK, founded in 1993 by a former hunter, has, according to the pleading, “forced a multitude of important changes to eliminate some of the worst animal suffering at rodeos” in the U.S., including in 2007, when “SHARK exposed the ‘Superbowl of Rodeos,’ PRCA’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR)…SHARK’s video cameras documented Charles Soileau, then Vice-Chairman of the PRCA Board of Directors, secretly shocking horses. SHARK went on to eventually expose the entire affair as a rigged competition full of animal cruelty.”
APRL is a San Diego based nonprofit which since 2003 has, according to the lawsuit, “worked to expose and eliminate animal cruelty, pass laws protecting animals and their habitats, influence corporate decisions and consumer behavior, and litigated on behalf of animals and animal activists.”
APRL was instrumental in passing Proposition 2, writes Pease, the “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which California voters overwhelmingly supported to ban cages for egg laying hens, calves raised for veal, and pregnant pigs that were so small the animals could not move or turn around for their entire lives.”