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Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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PETA: Cancel Dade City bull run festival

DADE CITY - Plans for a bull run at Little Everglades Ranch have drawn the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA reported today that it had sent a letter to Katie Carris, general manager of Little Everglades Ranch, calling on her to cancel the ranch’s involvement in the Great Bull Run, which is set for Feb. 1 and is modeled after Pamplona, Spain’s century-old tradition of running with bulls. “No matter how cautious the organizers may appear to be, there is no way to be sure that the animals won't suffer or become injured at these events,” Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA, wrote. Little Everglades Ranch, though, has no intention of canceling the event and plans to write a letter to PETA to let the organization know, said Kevin Campbell, events organizer for the ranch.
“We’re very used to dealing with livestock and running events,” Campbell said. “This is something we feel strongly we can host and handle.” The ranch, though, will expect the producer of the event to “take extreme care with the animals and the people,” Campbell said. The Great Bull Run is being held in nine cities, including Dade City, and is organized by a company in Boston. The daylong festival is to feature several bull runs, a large-scale tomato food fight dubbed the “Tomato Royale,” live music, games and food. Tickets will range from $50 to $120 for runners, $25 to $45 for Tomato Royale participants and $30 for spectators. To run with the bulls, participants must be at least 18 and sign a waiver. In her letter to Little Everglades Ranch, Reiman wrote that “the bulls will bolt out of the pen in panic when the starting gate opens, running out of confusion and terror.” She added that the bulls can crash into barriers, fall and break their legs, or collide with and injure each other. Reiman said the event also poses risks for the human participants. “The recklessness inherent in these events can't be denied,” Reiman wrote. “Although the human participants are warned of the very real danger, the bulls are not able to opt out.” Ranch owners Sharon and Bob Blanchard responded in writing to Reiman on Monday, thanking her for her thoughts and advice, and assuring her that care will be taken with the bulls. “Our facility is well equipped to handle the bulls while they are on our property, as we have safe cattle pens with plenty of grazing and fresh water for all our animals,” they wrote. Reiman suggested in her letter that the bulls would be trucked thousands of miles to Dade City, but the Blanchards said they have been assured the bulls “will be purchased no farther than 100 miles from our facility.” The Blanchards also listed several events the ranch has hosted over the years, including such extreme sports events as the Tough Mudder Race, the Savage Race, the Dirty Girl Mud Run and the Pretty Muddy Mud Run. The ranch also has hosted equestrian events, such as the Little Everglades Steeplechase and the Little Everglades International Combined Driving Event, which is a World Cup qualifier event for horse teams and competitors. “Being very sensitive to animals that appear in various types of competitions, we are especially careful to make sure the conditions are as safe as possible for animals and the competitors,” the Blanchards wrote. “No one enjoys seeing anyone or any animal harmed.”

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