Final Yee-haw? Rodeos could be banned in LA under this new ordinance

CEDAR PARK, TX - JANUARY 16: Jake Lockwood rides Turboblast during the Professional Bull Riders Tour Cedar Park Chute Out on January 16, 2021 at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park, TX. (Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Board of Animal Services Commissioners unanimously recommended on Tuesday, Oct. 10 that L.A. ban rodeos within city limits, citing concerns that the events are inherently cruel to animals.

This follows a city council ordinance that passed in December 2022 that prohibits the use of electric prods, shocking devices and other implements used in rodeos.

According to the motion, rodeos often use a number of "inhumane implements" in order to encourage "aggressive behavior in animals to produce an entertainment product."

The motion cites significant injuries to animals during common rodeo events, such as bull and bronco riding, steer wrestling and calf roping. Officials also alleged that "many animals are put down" as a result of these injuries sustained during rodeos.

"The best rodeos have a vet on site. To me, that's an acknowledgment that this process is inherently unsafe for those animals," said Staycee Dains, head of Los Angeles Animal Services. "This is not about preserving culture. Hundreds of years ago, animals were rounded up from the plains, so you had to physically tackle animals. That doesn't exist anymore."

A ban would end the appearance of LA's annual Professional Bull Ride (PBR) tour held in Arena each February.

PBR events focus on bull riding but do not include other traditional rodeo events, according to the organization. The tour fought back against complaints of animal cruelty with an ad that read: "Buck the LA City Council. The Only Thing Being Tortured is the Truth."

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PBR's CEO Sean Gleason called the proposed ordinance "unnecessary legislation" that will only cancel events that he says benefit the local community.

Gleason alleged that PBR has a number of rules in place to ensure that animals are treated ethically. He also allegedly offered to invite L.A. city council members to the rodeo and learn about PBR's "animal athletes" who, he says, live "four to five times longer than animals not fortunate enough to compete."

L.A. is not the first Southern California city to implement this type of ordinance. Pasadena banned the display of wild or exotic animals on public property in 2015, a law that applied to both circuses and rodeos. Additionally, Irvine banned rodeos in 2011, along with Laguna Woods and Chino Hills.

Further north, some areas like Alameda County and Clark County are passing more narrow prohibitions on specific rodeo activities, rather than banning the events altogether.

Internationally, rodeos are banned in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and Vancouver, Canada banned them in 2006.

If the L.A. city council passes the ban, rodeos could still take place in areas of Los Angeles County that fall outside Los Angeles city limits.

"Nobody's life will be destroyed or hindered or harmed when we protect animals from abuse," said Dains.