A petition circulating through Colorado is calling for the National Western Stock Show to end a popular event in its program lineup.
The mutton busting competition features kids between 5-7 years old that try to hang on as long as they can while riding on the back of a running sheep. An animal-rights group calls the event cruel and barbaric. An online petition was started by a woman in the United Kingdom and it’s gained 82,000 signatures.
“The entire Western Stock Show is a very violent event,” says Aidan Cook, an activist with the group Direct Action Everywhere. Cook is one of 1,200 Colorado residents who’ve signed the petition. “If we strapped children to the backs of terrified dogs and ran them around for our enjoyment, people would be outraged,” Cook says, “and it’s no different to do it to sheep.” The online petition says the sheep see the child as a “predator,” and the animals often leave the event seriously injured.
A statement from the stock show says, “The National Western Stock Show takes animal welfare and safety seriously. Every mutton-busting event has strict rules that are enforced for the safety of both the animals and children.”