It may be true that in recent years mutton busting has become commonplace entertainment at rodeos and fairs, yet for the sheep involved, the entertainment value does little to ease the animals’ fear and pain.
Sheep riding, or mutton busting, is an event where children jump on the backs of sheep and try to ride them as the panicked animals struggle to free themselves.
On Oct. 29, rodeo sheep caught a small but meaningful break as the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to add mutton busting to the list of prohibited events in the county rodeo ordinance.
It should be noted that the ban affects rodeos only in the unincorporated areas of the county, such as the Rowell Ranch Rodeo. The Livermore Rodeo, held within city limits, will not be affected, although organizers may want to consider following in the path of the Alameda County Fair administrators who, despite operating within Pleasanton city limits, have opted to abide by any rodeo-event ban in the County Ordinance, including the ban on mutton busting.
Kudos to Supervisors Richard Valle (president), Wilma Chan and Keith Carson for voting in favor of the ban, and for taking a step to end animal suffering for entertainment purposes. Voting against the ban were Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Nate Miley, both of whom represent areas that host rodeos.
As Millennials and Gen Z young people come of age, they are heading an enormous movement that focuses on taking care of the environment − and the animals that inhabit it.
“The tide is turning against exploitation and abuse of animals for entertainment,” said In Defense of Animals President Marilyn Kroplick, M.D. “The shocking mistreatment of sheep, calves and horses in rodeo is every bit as harmful and significant as the cruelty inflicted on orcas at SeaWorld and elephants in circuses.”