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USDA Urged to Investigate Unlicensed “Bull Running” Events

Cruel spectacle may be in violation of Animal Welfare Act

In a letter to the USDA, animal advocates call on authorities to investigate whether two companies behind “running of the bulls” events held in the U.S. are properly licensed. The  events – the next of which will take place in Petersburg, Va. in August – are modeled after a festival in Pamplona, Spain, where up to a dozen 1,500-pound bulls are forced to stampede down a fenced-in track as participants attempt to outrun them. Participants are often hit or run over by the bulls, suffering injuries that can require hospital treatment, while the animals themselves are subject to fear and great distress.

“These events are a shameful example of cruelty for the sake of nothing more than entertainment and profit,” said Ann Chynoweth, senior director of The Humane Society of the United States’ End Animal Cruelty and Fighting campaign. “These companies put the health and safety of both humans and animals at risk, without the required federal oversight.  We call on the USDA to investigate these entities immediately.”

As The HSUS letter explains, events such as these, which exhibit animals for entertainment and compensation, must be licensed by the USDA pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act. The failure to possess this license deprives USDA of the opportunity to oversee the events, and to ensure the safety of both the animals and the public. The letter also notes that, given the inherently dangerous nature of running with bulls, it is highly unlikely that these events could ever comply with the animal welfare and human safety requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and its regulations, and therefore are probably prohibited in their current formulation.

“Running of the bulls” events have been held intermittently in the U.S. since 1997, with the last one in 2012. This year, a company is planning events in several cities.

Media Contact:
Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org