The running of the bulls is coming to Petersburg this weekend. So are a bunch of animal rights protesters, who are calling the event barbaric, dangerous and stupid.
The Richmond Friends of Animals outlines its concerns in a call to protest posted yesterday:
After being loaded onto trucks and, in some cases, driven hundreds of miles, the bulls bolt out of a pen in panic when the starting gate opens and horse-mounted “wranglers” chase them from behind. As the 1,500-pound animals are forced to stampede, they can crash into metal barriers, fall and break their legs, or collide with and injure each other.
Likewise, the Humane Society and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals have come out against the event, describing it as “fleeting entertainment that puts the health and safety of both humans and animals at risk.”
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Humane Society argues that the event violates the Animal Welfare Act. The Department says it’s examining the allegation, but the Washington Post reported yesterday that it’s not “clear whether a response or action might come before the bulls are set loose Saturday.”
At least a dozen people are expected to protest outside the grounds. Another 4,500 have signed a petition asking the run's host, Virginia Motorsports Park, to cancel the event, while the Humane Society is urging people to call and write to Dinwiddie County administrators and supervisors to ask them to rescind the run’s permit.
On the other side of the fence, organizers say 5,000 have signed up to participate in the run so far.
The event takes place Saturday. The promoters are charging $10 to watch and $75 to run. Their pitch: “Grab life by the horns and experience the rush of a lifetime as you sprint down a quarter-mile track with twenty-four 1,000-pound bulls hot on your heels.”
Instead of slaughtering the bulls after the run as they do in Pamplona, Spain, in Petersburg the bulls will be loaded into trailers and participants will be invited to pelt each other during a complimentary tomato food fight.
The event is the first to take place in the United States, but the promoters have scheduled nine more runnings around the country through July 2014.