Animal Welfare Questions

PRCA Animal Welfare Guide - click here

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Flying U Rodeo Protocols for Animal Care - click here

Our Stand on Animal Cruelty - click here


PRCA Veterinarian of the Year, presented by Purina, to be awarded at the 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is proud to announce the creation of the "PRCA Veterinarian of the Year Award" presented by Purina. The first recipient will be honored during the 52nd Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Dec. 2-11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The award will go to a veterinarian who exemplifies extraordinary dedication and commitment to the well being of professional rodeo livestock.

"We will honor one veterinarian each year, but it is also recognition of the hundreds of veterinarians who are on-site at PRCA rodeos and who care for livestock in their communities," said ProRodeo Hall of Famer and Chairman of the PRCA's Animal Welfare Committee, Doug Corey, DVM.

"The PRCA is thrilled to partner with Purina and to have them as the title sponsor of the PRCA Veterinarian of the Year Award," said Cindy Schonholtz, PRCA Director of Industry Outreach. "Purina's 115-year passionate commitment to caring for animals makes them the perfect fit for this award,"

The award-winning PRCA Livestock Welfare Department is involved in outreach and education, along with implementing rules for the proper care and treatment of livestock.

"Purina greatly appreciates the individuals who dedicate their lives to the care and well-being of animals," said Brad Schu, Purina Director of Horse Business. "We welcome the opportunity to sponsor this award and acknowledge the PRCA for their ongoing commitment to the care and well-being of all animals involved in professional rodeo."

Animal Welfare

Rodeo has a unique quality of origin to which no other professional sport can lay claim. It emerged from an industry...from the daily routine and tasks of a low paying job with long hours performed by ranch hands who came to know very well the animals with which they lived. If it were any other kind of job, leisure hours might have produced another kind of ball game rather than a recreation involving the very animals one had already spent long hours tending. But cowboying has always been more of a way of life than a job or an opportunity to get rich.

 There are many misconceptions about animal abuse in rodeo, MOST of which are unfounded. Like any action sport, there are occasional injuries to both species of athletes. The care and well-being of rodeo's treasured livestock is a top priority of anybody involved in professional rodeo. Members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association believe, as do most people, that animals should be treated humanely. The PRCA staunchly protects its animals with rules that are so successful in the prevention of cruelty or unintentional mistreatment that the American Veterinary Medical Association has recognized PRCA guidelines in its position statement on the welfare of animals in spectator events. The AVMA position reads, in part, "The AVMA recommends that all rodeos abide by rules to ensure the humane treatment of rodeo livestock, such as those established by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association." Many people have concerns regarding the treatment of animals in professional rodeo. The following information provides brief answers to the most common questions.

 "DO RODEO COWBOYS USE SPURS DURING COMPETITION?" Dull spurs are used in only three events - bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. Spurs that meet PRCA guidelines have blunt rowels (the star-shaped wheel on the spurs) that are about one-eighth of an inch thick, so they can't cut the animals and must be loose so that they roll over the animal's hide. If a rider uses non-regulation spurs, he is disqualified from competition.

"WHAT IS A FLANK STRAP?" The flank strap is a sheepskin-lined strip of leather that is placed behind the horse's rib cage in the flank area. The strap enhances the bucking instinct of the animal - who has actually been bred to buck - but causes no pain. PRCA rules strictly regulate the use of the strap, which must have a quick release buckle. Sharp objects are never placed between the strap and the animal and the strap does not pinch the animal's genitalia.

"WHAT IS A CATTLE PROD?" The cattle prod was developed by the cattle industry as a means to move livestock. Use of the prod has become one of the most universally accepted and humane ways of moving animals on ranches, in veterinary clinics and, on occasion, at professional rodeos. PRCA rules require the prod be used as little as possible and that the animals be touched only on the hip or shoulder area. Powered solely by flashlight batteries, the prod produces 5,000-6,000 volts of electricity, but virtually no amperage. And because amperage - not voltage - causes burns, the prod causes a mild shock, but no injury.

"WHO TAKES CARE OF THE ANIMALS?" The true experts on livestock management and care are those that do it every day. PRCA rodeos are produced by people who are knowledgeable and well-educated about proper livestock handling - and few are more attuned to the animals' needs that professional stock contractors. Animals used in professional rodeo are considered top athletes, just like the cowboys and cowgirls who ride them. They are a huge financial investment to the stock contractors - so you can bet they are given only the best of care!

"HOW OFTEN ARE PROFESSIONAL RODEO ANIMALS INJURED?" A 1993-94 survey conducted at 28 PRCA rodeos indicated that the injury rate for animals was so low that it was statistically negligible. Of the 33,991 animals that entered the arenas, only 16 were injured, according to data compiled by the required on-site veterinarians. That translates to an injury rate of less than five-hundredths of one percent, or less than one animal in 2,000. Other surveys throughout the years have also shown that animal injury rates in professional rodeo are extremely low. Mistreatment of livestock - intentional or unintentional - is virtually unheard of at PRCA rodeos.

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