PLEASANTON (KPIX 5) — A bull run similar to the one in Spain is coming to the East Bay, unless a judge stops it.
Despite a lawsuit and a change.org petition claiming animal cruelty, the “Great Bull Run” is expected to draw a large crowd to the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton on July 26th.
Just like they do in Spain, participants will step out in front of a stampede of bulls, hoping to live to tell about it. Then, they’ll have a giant tomato fight.
“It’s getting a lot of social media buzz,” said Angel Moore, fair spokesperson.
According to the event’s web site, participants will sign a waiver, then pay $60 to enter the event.
On March 13th, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit to try and stop the event.
“Any amount of animal suffering is totally unjustified,” said Christopher Berry, staff attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
“The only benefit is to line corporate pocket books and to provide drunk college kids with a couple of hours of amusement,” he added.
Berry said the bull run is a “bloodless bullfight” which is illegal in California. He says some participants have taunted and hit bulls in past events.
“And we have eyewitness evidence that people on horseback with ropes and whips have scared bulls so that they would stampede against the participants,” Berry said.
Rob Dickens, the COO for the Great Bull Run called the lawsuit “frivolous,” and insisted no bulls are ever hurt. “We have two cowboys to follow behind to make sure that if a bull does stop or get turned around, they can lead it into the corral safely,” he said.
“The cowboys have lassos in hand just in case a bull does attack someone. They’ll then rope it and lead it back to the corral. They do not hit the bulls with the lassos. As for their alleged ‘eyewitness’ accounts, they’re simply describing the cowboys doing their job, which is to herd cows. We certainly don’t want the bulls stopping and running in the opposite direction when the runners aren’t expecting them to come from that way. That would be grossly negligent on our part,” Dickens said.
This past weekend, a Great Bull Run event held in Cicero, Illinois near Chicago ended without any reported injuries to people or animals. Dickens bristles when he hears it compared to a bullfight.
“They’re claiming that people running alongside bulls is the same as bullfighting, a ‘sport’ in which the bulls are killed,” said Dickens. “However, we certainly don’t kill our bulls, and we haven’t had an injury to any of our bulls in eight events.”
As for the lawsuit, right now, the court does not have anything on the docket, so both sides said they expect the event will go on as scheduled.