Animal rights activists take California rodeo to court

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SALINAS, Calif. (AP) — Animal rights activists have filed a lawsuit against a California rodeo, saying organizers should have reported dozens of cattle injured in roping contests.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund said Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against the California Rodeo Salinas, a century-old event held annually on the Central Coast. The suit alleges rodeo officials for the last two years reported just four of 41 injuries, mostly to steers.

The animal rights group said it sued on behalf of the Illinois-based Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK.

State law requires that such injuries be promptly reported to the California Veterinary Medical Board, SHARK founder Steve Hindi said.

The lawsuit also names the rodeo's head veterinarian, Tim Eastman.

Eastman said the claims are unfounded and he became a veterinarian because he loves animals.

California Rodeo organizers denied SHARK's claims and said they have given the Monterey County SPCA full access to the rodeo grounds.

"The latest publicized allegations by SHARK present no new claims and we are confident they will be discredited as they have been in the past," Rodeo organizers said.

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