Perhaps you’ve heard of it or maybe you haven’t, either way there’s no denying it – the Spanish tradition of “running of the bulls,” which takes place in Pamplona, Spain every year, is alive and well in the U.S. too, thanks to a traveling festival called the Great Bull Run.

That’s right – you can get “trampled, gored, rammed or tossed in the air by a bull, or bumped, jostled, tripped or trampled by your fellow runners,” right here in the U.S. without “breaking the bank,” as the Great Bull Run boosts on its website, concluding, “Pretty awesome, no?”

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How about – pretty cruel, no?

The event is scheduled for this Saturday, Dec. 7 in Houston, Texas, at the Royal Purple Raceway, and it’s already under fire from animal advocates across the country. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) reports in a press release that they’ve “called on Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia to prohibit [the event],” stating that it violates “section 751.003 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, which prohibits mass gatherings without a permit.”

The Chambers County court has apparently admitted to ADLF that the Great Bull Run Company has not even “bothered to apply” for the permit. So our question is, why is it being allowed to happen in the first place?

And guess what, dear readers – the run is not only happening in Texas; it’s taking place across the U.S. in cities like Chicago and Atlanta. A full list of locations can be found here.

A dangerous event for all involved

The company stresses that the run is “inherently dangerous” and that you can get “seriously injured,” but it’s all in the name of “epic fun,” so no big deal if you get trampled or die, right?

Its site even boasts that in the last 103 years of Spain’s annual running event, only fifteen deaths have occurred.

While no deaths have yet to be reported in the U.S., some participants have suffered severe injuries. ALDF reports that two participants were hospitalized with concussions at a Virginia event while one runner “broke his pelvis in three places” in Georgia.

Unless there are laws against engaging in this dangerous activity, no one can stop people from participating in it. What’s more, runners are willing participants in these events and presumably know and have accepted the risks associated with it (even if to some us, it seems ridiculous to participate, period).

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Yet, the animals who are forced to run are not willing participants. They too can suffer serious injuries, but these concerns seem to be disregarded since the event is all about “fun” and “adrenaline,” and oh, it’s okay because the bulls aren’t killed or abused like in Spain and because the company has taken “numerous measures to ensure [the] bulls remain safe and healthy at all times.”

So how has the company ensured this? According to its website, the bulls “have been trained to run the course without physical contact and to be accustomed to large crowds of humans, thereby eliminating any stress or fear on their part.” Plus, there’s a veterinarian “on site at all times to monitor the health and treatment of the bulls” and once the event is over the bulls “return to the open-air ranch where they’re tended by veterinarians and professional bull handlers.”

Even if the bulls are healthy when they enter the quarter-mile course and healthy when they leave for “the open-air ranch” (whatever that means), it’s quite a stretch to say that stress and fear have been totally eliminated “on their part.”

Sure, they can be trained to run the course many times over but no one can really be certain that they don’t experience stress or fear during the runs. Ultimately, we need to see the bigger picture – that animals are being used strictly for entertainment purposes and to make a profit. The event may look and sound “cool,” but it’s far from admirable, and it simply reinforces the way humans have unfortunately viewed animals for years – as commodities that we can use how we please. It’s long past due for this mentality to change. It’s shifting slowly in some cases, but not fast enough.

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Take action

Do your part and speak out for the protection of bulls and against the Great Bull Race. Contact Royal Purple Raceway’s executive vice president and general manager, Seth Angel, and politely ask that his company prohibit this event from entering Houston. Contact the raceway here. A sample letter to Angel can be found here. Then be sure to check if the run is coming to your home state right here, and send another comment to the facility that is scheduled to hold it.

Update: According to The Baytown Sun, the Great Bull Run has been delayed in Houston until Jan. 25, 2014 due to “predicted severe weather.” Please be sure to take action still and politely tell the Royal Purple Raceway that such an event should never be held.

Image source: Great Bull Run