The Cottage Grove Rodeo will not feature rabbits in its Animal Scramble this year. A video of last year’s event, showing children catching and carrying rabbits, drew extensive criticism. The Rodeo, to be held July 12 and 13, 2013 will include 80 chickens to be scrambled for by youngsters. Jon Stinnett reported about the news in the Cottage Grove Sentinel. Here are some highlights:
Last summer, a video of the Animal Scramble, in which rabbits were let loose in the rodeo arena for a large group of hopeful youngsters to catch, went viral and unleashed a firestorm of criticism on the Cottage Grove Riding Club, which organizes the Rodeo. This year, the Scramble will take place as scheduled, according to Riding Club President Kelli Fisher, though kids will only ‘scramble’ for a group of about 80 chickens. An egg hunt will be held to determine the new owners of about 25 rabbits, Fisher said, and kids who participate in the Scramble will only be allowed to walk.
Fisher said the changes come in response to a complaint to the United States Department of Agriculture by Red Barn Rabbit Rescue, a Creswell-based center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of domestic rabbits. Red Barn founder Heather Crippen said she and her daughter attended and taped the Animal Scramble in 2012 and posted the video to the Internet.
“We went to the Rodeo in 2012 and taped it, and we were mortified by what we saw,” Crippen said. “It’s just cruel – the whole thing is awful for rabbits. Anything over 80 degrees is too hot for rabbits, first of all. They put them all together in a horse trailer, and rabbits can mate in three seconds, so someone who thought they were getting one rabbit may end up with 10. It was horrific; there’s no way to make it a pleasant event for the animals.”
In recent years, the Scramble has also drawn criticism from the Cottage Grove Humane Society, whose Janetta Overholser said the group has heard many stories of animals treated inhumanely after they were caught during the Scramble.
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Hoppington Post is pleased that the event organizers have revised their policy. Simply giving free rabbits to children is a mistake in our opinion, as rabbits require much greater care and attention than most children are capable of providing. Adding the stress of chasing rabbits around, grabbing them and carrying them about is a cruel thing to do to a prey animal. We congratulate Heather Crippen and Red Barn Rabbit Rescue for helping to end this form of animal cruelty.
Photo from the 2012 event.