Animal Welfare Groups Sue Boone County Building & Zoning In Illinois To Stop Cruel Mexican-Style Rodeos

A new lawsuit against the Boone County Building and Zoning Department in Illinois states that the company is violating their own zoning ordinance by repeatedly issuing temporary use permits for Mexican-style rodeos, called La Charreada. Horses are subjected to routine beatings by rodeo participants and steers suffer such severe abuse that they break their legs, horns, and backs, and have their tails ripped off in these barbaric rodeos.

California-based Humane Farming Association (HFA) and Illinois-based Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) filed the lawsuit in the Boone County Circuit Court. Having formally opposed and then appealed the issuance of use permits, the plaintiffs are now filing suit against the County, seeking injunctive relief.

The County’s zoning ordinance sets forth minimum requirements for rodeos and prohibits acts of animal cruelty. County zoning officers are required to deny permits if rodeos cause harm to animals or violate state animal cruelty laws. In addition, zoning officers can deny permits where “the applicant has demonstrated and documented failure to comply with the regulations of a similar previously granted temporary use.”

In a particularly brutal event called “tailing,” riders beat their horses with whips and fists and use sharp spurs to force their horses close to terrified steers so that riders can reach for and forcibly grab onto the steer’s tail. The rider then wraps the tail around his leg and rides off to the side. This results in the steer being violently slammed to the ground. The rider gains maximum points when the steer falls onto his right side and twirls onto his back.

In some cases, the steer’s tail is ripped off, a process called “degloving.” Video evidence shows that some competitors wave the tail remnants in the air as a sign of “victory.”

“It’s deeply troubling that these negligent county agencies are permitting this blatant animal cruelty in clear violation of their own ethical and legal obligations,” said HFA National Director Bradley Miller.

For over a year, plaintiffs have used drones and other methods to document not only horrendous abuse during tailing, but also the failure of rodeo personnel to “provide veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering,” as state law requires. Steers have languished for hours before being loaded into tractor buckets and taken off site to be shot.

La Charreada is particularly cruel in that steers are used repeatedly, with individual animals being run in tailing events as many as 20 times. Electric prods are used extensively at these Boone County Mexican-style rodeos, despite the fact that the rules of the Mexican Federation of Charreria prohibit the use of electric prods in chutes. These rules also forbid the running of injured animals and require a licensed veterinarian to be available to tend to animals who are hurt.

“It’s outrageous that Illinois, which has one of the best humane laws in the nation, in fact allows such egregious animal cruelty,” said SHARK president Steve Hindi.

Because plaintiffs HFA and SHARK charge that the County is violating its own zoning ordinance, they are asking the court to compel County officials to deny permits to these events when they are presented with evidence of animal harm and animal cruelty before or during the permit review process.

Please take action by calling Governor Pritzker’s office and politely urge him to shut this rodeo down for good! 

Springfield office: (217) 782-6830 or (217) 782-6831

Chicago office: (312) 814-2121 or (312) 814-2122

You can also contact Boone County Board Members:

Rodney Riley – (815) 519-3387

Brian Schneider – (847) 334-4020

Raymond Larson –
(847) 334-4020

Brent Mueller – (815) 509-3797

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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