Roping Event Causing Controversy in Van Horn

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

VAN HORN - A controversy is brewing in Van Horn. It all revolves an event at their annual rodeo, being held this weekend. The Roping of the Donkey Event has caught the attention of animal activists from around the country, they say it's animal cruelty.

"We've been made to look awfully bad but that's not the case , you know," Jason Owen, with Dos Gringos Productions, said.

Owen says he has never abused any of his donkey, as a matter of fact he rescued these donkeys.

"My partner and I bought a load of wild donkeys off of a killer truck heading south of the border to be used for human consumption, they were skin and bones. Now we got these donkeys, we rehabilitated them," Owen said.

Mark Meyers, Executive Director at Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, has a different outlook of the situation. He says donkeys are framed different than steers, therefore submitting them to any type of roping is cruel.

"Why are we using donkeys and not horses then? If it's done in fun, why does he not rope his own horses? It's obviously cruel if you have ever seen a donkey stretched between two horses, their joints aren't made for that. There is no justifiable reason to do it," Meyers said.

Even though there's no sign animal cruelty towards these donkeys, different organizations want Owen to surrender his donkeys.

"I am not going to surrender them, we haven't done anything wrong. I am not going to surrender these donkeys, I will sell them if these guys want to buy them," Owen said.

Meyers says it is more expensive to feed donkeys than what they are actually worth, he says that's why most people mistreat these animals.

"That's one thing people don't understand they have no financial worth and so people treat them as if they had no financial worth and do cruel things to them like throw ropes around them," Owen said.

Although the Steering Roping Competition will be in full swing this weekend, due to the negative publicity, Mr. Owen has decided to cancel the Donkey Roping Event.