The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will reconsider a direction its planning committee made to staff last January to create a draft ordinance banning “mutton busting,” a rodeo act that includes young children riding sheep that is akin to bullriding.
The planning committee voted, 4-1, with Supervisor Scott Haggerty voting no, on Jan. 15 after testimony and several videos detailed the events at Castro Valley’s Rowell Ranch Rodeo, which also include wild cow milking, basically a speed milking contest.
But Supervisor Nate Miley, who represents Castro Valley and who voiced tepid support for the draft ordinance banning mutton busting two months ago, is asking the board to reconsider its direction.
Although the item was on Tuesday’s planning committee agenda, it was not heard, instead it was continued to the Board of Supervisor’s regular April 9 meeting.
In a memo, Miley urged for reconsideration of the action due to concerns from constituents who said they could not attend and testify at the Jan. 15 because of the short-notice of the agenda, which, in this case, was 72 hours.
Miley also received new information, including a survey, regarding mutton busting in the state, according to the memo.
Eric Mills, an animal activist and founder of Action for Animals, told the board Tuesday afternoon that animals such as those included at Rowell Ranch events experience great fear from the activities.
“Any four-year-old knows the animals aren’t having a good time,” said Mills before adding, “If you do to dogs what they do to roping calves, they would put you in jail.”
Last January, at least two board members, Supervisors Wilma Chan and Richard Valle, were clearly disturbed by the videos of animals at the Rowell Ranch Rodeo. “I find the videos disturbing, and to be honest with you, cruel,” said Valle.
If the county supervisors decide to move forward with legislation next month, despite Miley’s recommendation, they could face a tight time frame to have it on the books before the Rowell Ranch Rodeo opens in mid-May.
The latest possible date for approval by the board, along with a second reading for passage, could leave the rodeo with less than two weeks to reconfigure its schedule.