The annual Livermore Rodeo takes place June 8-9 this year. Be aware that nearly EVERY animal welfare organization in North America opposes rodeos due to their inherent cruelty. As famed animal behaviorist Temple Grandin notes, "The single worst thing you can do to an animal emotionally is to make it feel afraid. Fear is so bad for animals, I think it's worse than pain." For most of the animals, the rodeo arena is merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse.

The Cloverdale Rodeo near Vancouver boasts perhaps the most humane rodeo on the continent, a model for all others. Back in 2007, after a series of animal injuries and deaths, and constant protests, the Cloverdale Rodeo Committee dropped four of the most problematic events from the program: calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and the non-sanctioned "wild cow milking contest," all of which are featured at Livermore.

As a result, the rodeo lost its professional sanctioning. But not to worry! Since the rodeo prize monies are so good, the major cowboys continue to come to compete, the crowds are bigger than ever, and the animal rights protests have nearly disappeared: WIN/WIN.

Other rodeos - Livermore and Rowell Ranch included - would be wise to consider this humane compromise, or risk losing it all.

Public attitudes about the use/abuse of animals in entertainment are changing: recent bans on orca shows at SeaWorld; demise of the Ringling Bros. Circus; ban on use of wild animals in circus acts in New Jersey and Hawaii (and soon in California, SB 373); and the 2018 ban on greyhound racing in Florida via ballot initiative. Can rodeos be far behind?

As Gandhi famously wrote, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Clearly, there's work to be done.