03/17/2014 09:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Are Bull Runs Fun -- or Cruel Exploitation?

Great Bull Run

On March 13, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit against the Great Bull Run and the Lone Star Rodeo to stop the Great Bull Run events scheduled in California this summer. This marks the first lawsuit filed to stop the Great Bull Run, which has received widespread negative attention from across the United States. ALDF has been a vocal opponent of these events from the beginning.

California's Penal Code makes it unlawful to cause any bull to fight with a human or to subject any animal to needless suffering, which bull runs do. These events show an embarrassing disregard for animal welfare and public safety in pursuit of a cheap thrill. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is asking the court to stop allowing this company to profit from exploiting the fear and panic of helpless animals.

The U.S. events are inspired by Pamplona, Spain, bull runs, which have killed at least 15 people. Human safety clearly isn't much of a concern to the Great Bull Run organizers. A bull run was previously scheduled for Lake Elsinore, California but was not permitted by the city manager out of concern for public health and safety: Three previous Great Bull Run events sent participants to the hospital. In fact, participants must sign waivers that the attorney owners designed to prevent the company known as Great Bull Run, LLC, from being sued for grievous injury.

During the Great Bull Run, organizers send as many as three dozen bulls, weighing nearly one ton each, barreling down a narrow track at 35 miles per hour chasing fleeing runners -- many of whom have been drinking alcohol. Last fall, The New York Times quoted the Great Bull Run's Rob Dickens, who said, "We need to crank up the danger." This was after two people had just been injured in a Georgia bull run put on by his company, one with a broken pelvis after being severely trampled by a bull. "It is a truly dangerous event where runners could get seriously injured," Dickens admitted.

To "crank up the danger," some participants may taunt the frightened bulls. Veterinary experts have concluded that the runs cause unnecessary suffering and stress to the animals. "As a bovine veterinarian, I can confirm that that these events are extremely stressful for the bulls and present substantial risk of injury to them, as well as an enormous public safety risk to the humans participating," reported Dr. Holly Cheever, veterinarian and vice president of the New York State Humane Association.

Provoking innocent animals just to get a buzz from their distress isn't a sport. As an avid lover of the outdoors, I'm all about taking risks and grabbing life "by the horns," so to speak. People are welcome to participate in "extreme" sports as long as they leave the animals out of it. Animals shouldn't have to suffer for human selfishness, boredom, greed... or stupidity. There's simply no skill, athleticism, or honor in these events -- just a lot of bull.