MEDIA RELEASE: Activists Protest Cruelty and Electric Shocks at Tucson Rodeo, Urge Officials to Act

MEDIA RELEASE: Activists Protest Cruelty and Electric Shocks at Tucson Rodeo, Urge Officials to Act

TUCSON, Ariz. (February 22, 2022) — On Saturday, February 19, In Defense of Animals and Tucson-based Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom (SPEAK) protested the Tucson Rodeo on its opening day. About 25 people joined in front of the arena at the Tucson Rodeo grounds to oppose this abusive spectacle and raise awareness about the use of electric shocks on animals, which officials are being urged to ban. An even larger demonstration is planned on finals day, Sunday, February 27.

For more than a decade, SPEAK and Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) have obtained undercover video footage on various occasions that depicts the routine shocking of animals at the Tucson Rodeo. Hand-held Hot-Shot devices are used to shock animals with 5,000-6,000-volts of electricity. Rodeo employees use sneaky tactics and body language to hide their unacceptable practices from public view.

Some rodeo fans attending the event were enraged to learn that the bulls and horses are being electrically shocked. 

Many rodeos sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association have abandoned shocking devices. Yet undercover videos taken at the Tucson Rodeo in recent years document quite clearly that horses and bulls are shocked as the chutes open. 

During the 2019 Tucson Rodeo, unquestionably injured and traumatized animals were removed from the arena, yet General Manager Gary Williams publicly stated, “We have a veterinarian here for every performance. He’s not had to treat a single animal yet this year and this is the last day. Not one single animal.”

Over 13,000 people have signed In Defense of Animalsalert urging Mayor Regina Romero and the Tucson City Council to ban the use of electric shock devices.

“We are calling on Tucson community leaders to exercise compassion and integrity by enacting a ban on the use of electric shock devices at the rodeo, as a step towards phasing out the abusive rodeo completely,” said Brittany Michelson, Captive Animals Campaigner for In Defense of Animals.

“With this rodeo in its 97th year, will it really take our community a century to finally realize that there's no such thing as a rodeo without animal cruelty? The real concern is not how many people are admitted to the event, but rather how many people in the arena admit to the animal abuse that they witness,” said SPEAK president Gary Vella.

Members of the public are encouraged to take action:


Images and videos:

Contact: Brittany Michelson,, 928-420-0727


In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

Tucson-based SPEAK (Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom) is proud to be Arizona's first animal rights organization. The organization addresses animal protection issues on every level: local, statewide, regional, national, and international. Speak’s mission to create a more cruelty-free world for animals involves a twofold approach: educational efforts coupled with active resistance to any form of animal abuse.



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