Letter to the editor: Don’t support animal abuse with our taxes

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A child rides a sheep at the 2014 Benton County Fair in Corvallis Oregon. — photo by Kirt Edblom via Flickr

By Lynn Gallagher

The county supervisors were presented on Nov. 15, 2018 with a petition signed by 375 Johnson County residents requesting that the county stop giving public funding to the Johnson County Agricultural Association unless they eliminate the kids’ rodeo. You can see my comments at the beginning of the meeting here.

The supervisors will initiate discussion of block grants at their Jan. 7 meeting from 10 a.m.-2:45 p.m. A block grant is the way taxpayer money is given to the Johnson County Ag Association.

This Ag Association is a nonprofit given a charitable exemption, so they pay no property taxes. They already get that tax break, and yet they ask for more taxpayer money every year. In 2018, they received $103,000.

I don’t think the public at large understands this situation, but more people are learning about it. Most people were not aware that a kids’ rodeo was part of the fair.

To give you an idea of the events that our taxes indirectly fund, please watch the beginning of this video that shows junior bull riding and mutton busting, and then jump to minute three to watch some of the goat tying. These are all events that are part of the kids’ (family) rodeo at the Johnson County Fair.

The animals are terrified and subjected to physical and emotional abuse. I believe that children should be taught to have respect and compassion for animals.

People are becoming more aware of the need for improvements in animal welfare. Iowa City recently passed some ordinances that improve protection for companion animals. They also passed a law banning the use of wild animals in traveling shows. The county needs to follow their lead. If you agree, please consider contacting the supervisors at or calling them at 319-356-6000, or consider coming to the meeting on Jan. 7, or to a subsequent meeting. You can make a public comment and address the board in person.

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  1. Kudos to letter-writer Lynn Gallagher. Be aware that nearly EVERY animal welfare organization in the country opposes rodeos due to their inherent cruelty. For most of the unwilling animals involved, rodeo is merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse. And assuredly this abuse should NOT be subsidized with taxpayers’ monies–a “no-brainer,” yes?

    Here in Alameda County, California (Oakland/Hayward area), an on-line petition posted by ANIMAL PLACE has garnered more than 180,000 signatures in favor of banning cruel (and non-sanctioned) rodeo events such as “wild cow milking,” children’s “mutton busting,” and all animal “scrambles.” Our county Board of Supervisors is expected to ban these cruel and mindless events sometime in January. Here’s hoping the Johnson County Board of Supervisors will do likewise. It’s the right and compassionate thing to do.

    Here in Alameda County we have support letters from the Alameda County Veterinary Medical Assn., the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Assn., the East Bay SPCA, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and hundreds of concerned citizens.

    As Tennessee Williams famously wrote, “Cruelty is the only forgivable sin.”

    Eric Mills, coordinator
    Oakland, CA

  2. Thank you for continuing to make people aware of this cruel practice, Lynn. I actually thought I knew how cruel the rodeo was, but after watching this I can honestly say it is much worse than I had thought. No tax dollars anywhere should go to support something like this. Tax dollars can and should be used to teach children positive things, not how to torture animals. I am hopeful that Johnson county will so the right thing.

  3. Teaching children to disrespect animals will pave the way for disrespecting humans. As a former prosecutor, we all know that violent criminals such as serial killers abuse animals before they begin to abuse humans. Rodeo should not be entertainment for adults, let alone children. A family member is a neurologist and when I discussed children riding sheep and calves he commented that it is a matter of time before a child is serious harmed. Rodeo needs to end both for the sake of the animals and also humans.

  4. Bravo, Lynn. Encouraging children to participate in cruelty to animals should be condemned.

  5. Lynn, Thank you for building awareness about this ridiculous use of tax dollars that helps to teach kids cruelty towards animals, all in the name of fun and entertainment. Neither animals, nor kids, should be treated in these ways.

  6. As an ordained animal chaplain I can say that when God gave dominion over nonhuman animals to “man” it came with responsibility to care for and protect what God holds dear. Exploiting any of God’s creatures, including other humans, is a grave sin that comes with a cost. Not one sparrow falls that escapes God’s notice and harming any of God’s creatures in turn hurts God. I wonder if those who participate in these events realize that ultimately each one of us will be called upon to answer God’s question: “What have you done to protect that which I entrusted to you?” May God show more mercy on those participating in rodeos than they have shown towards what rightfully belongs to God.

  7. Stop the horrors of the rodeo. This isn’t even a sport. It’s just hell on the animals, and they have no choice but to endure the abuse . . .

  8. Bravo, Lynn, for your wonderful letter. I have a large collection of junior rodeo incidents, of serious injories and fatalities if you are interested. When you consider the developing brain of a child, esp. teenagers, they absolutely lack the full capacity to make decisions such as engaging in USELESS, daredevil activities. They are inherently probe to taking unnecessary risks. But that aside, rodeo is VIOLENT and CRUEL regardless of who is tormenting these innocent animals. Their injuries are incredibly well documented. To think that we are inflicting this trauma deliberately is absolutely unconscionable. Shame on every single person for thinking that this is entertaining. And shame on the parents that allow their children to engage in such disgusting animal cruelty.

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