LHS Class of 1970
Kristy Mensik's
Op-Ed Statement
About Animal Rights Activists and Rodeo


Forwarded by a Proud Mother
Kathe Mensik


The following email from my daughter was sent as an op-ed to the Billings Gazette and surrounding county newspapers. I thought maybe I should send it on to you for her web link, as I think it may be appropriate to some classmates. You can decide though.


----- Original Message -----

From: "Kristy Mensik" missrodeomontana@excite.com

To: spronski@billingsgazette.com

Sent: Monday, October 15, 2001 10:22 AM

Subject: NILE; animals rights activists


With The NILE (Northern International Livestock Exposition ) and NILE rodeo back in town, I was wondering if you would allow me to do a guest editorial on animal rights activism. As the official ambassador of Montana ProRodeo, this is a message I feel very responsible to get out. The NILE is the biggest rodeo in our entire circuit. Plus it is held in conjunction with the state's largest livestock exhibition. As these folks are also susceptible to animal rights tactics, now is the perfect time for such an article. I truly appreciate the opportunity to be allowed to do this op-ed.

Thank you so much,

Kristy Mensik

Miss Rodeo MT 2001

PS A short autobiography and picture follows the article if you feel you would like to include them with my piece.

PSS Please let me know which day you plan to run this, so that, for maximum impact, I can alert folks to be looking for it when I do my radio and TV interviews this week. Thanks so much!!

As the official ambassador of Montana ProRodeo, one of my job responsibilities includes education about animal rights activism and its effects on rodeo. With the NILE in town this week, I felt this would be an ideal time to write an op-ed for the Billings Gazette. As many of you know, The NILE is the biggest rodeo in our entire circuit, plus it is held in conjunction with a huge livestock exhibition. These participants are also susceptible to animal rights tactics, so hopefully the information I share will be useful to all. In what follows, I will be using the word "rodeo", but please remember this applies equally to all other animal exhibitions including 4H, livestock, and horse shows. All have been targeted in the past, and will likely be targets in the future.

The organized opposition by animal rights activists is costly to the rodeo industry, but luckily, it has only had a minimal effect on the availability of rodeos. Youth, amateur, and pro rodeos are held in about 5,000 cities and towns across the country. A few ordinances have been passed which prohibit or restrict rodeo, but these tend to be used as propaganda "successes" by activists more than doing much to actually affect rodeo's availability. For example, Pittsburgh PA passed an ordinance to prohibit rodeo after a bull broke its leg in 1990. However, the event was moved to a nearby community, and fans were not impacted.

Rodeo is impacted by animal rights activism nonetheless. The negatives are felt by those in the business end of rodeo, which, in the long run, will affect the competitor and the fan, alike. It is, therefore, important for all of us to stay on top of what the animal rights activists are doing.

Let us look at ways activists are affecting rodeo profits. These can be as small as having to replace directional signs when they are stolen, destroyed, or defaced (sometimes "CANCELED" is written across them). However, the funds needed for extra security can be very costly. One rodeo reported having to spend an extra $9,000 on special security to deal with protesters. There is also the cost of lost rodeo dollars. These take two forms. Protesters pressure businesses that then chose to end their rodeo sponsorships or advertising. Revenue is also lost in the form of lower ticket sales when activists successfully convince former or potential fans that rodeo is cruel. Not only do the rodeo-related businesses suffer, but so do the communities where rodeos used to flourish. It does not take an economics major to realize that when fans no longer come, business revenues are impacted. In addition, many rodeos are put on by service organizations. If animal rights activities are effectively lowering rodeo profits, community programs and benefits also suffer.

It is important to remember that efforts by activists against rodeo do not affect rodeo animals as the activists would have you believe. Neither the number of animals used in rodeos nor the events in which they are used have been changed. The only new factor to the equation is the harm these animals, as well as people, have been exposed to since the activism began. The animals, which have been released from holding pens, have caused many thousands of dollars in damage to the property of innocent/uninvolved businesses and people. More to the point, though, and a fact you will never hear an animal rights activist admit, is that these released animals are often hurt and even killed after they have been "benevolently released from involuntary captivity." For example, one of several bulls released from a Minnesota rodeo several years ago collided with a moving vehicle, which caused the deaths of the bull and a passenger in the vehicle.

While activists' rhetoric is full of claims of animal misuse, we, on the outside of their organizations, must realize that what they are really opposed to is the use of animals in any form, PERIOD! They do not choose their targets based on the animals' needs, but on the vulnerability of the target chosen. In rodeo's case, it is a lack of familiarity by a public that has moved far away from its agricultural roots. As the majority of our society dwells in cities and suburbs, the knowledge of livestock handling is largely unnecessary to most of the American public. The why's and the how's of rodeo equipment are totally unknown and an easy target for propaganda. In addition, it is equally easy to involve human emotion where the beautiful, beloved horse is involved.

Activists never seem to acknowledge the proper use of animals or the benefits animals and/or people receive from animal activities. With such unbalanced information, a thinking individual must question the movement's motivation. They do not offer solutions for realistic, constructive changes; they do not explain how animals will fit into a world where they are not used; and their tactics do nothing to advance animal welfare. In spite of this, many individuals who erroneously believe the funds are spent on animal welfare freely donate large amounts of money.

In closing, I have three suggestions.

First, if you are donating to an animal organization, I urge you to investigate how your money is being used. Their organizations' names often give a very deceiving picture of what their true work is.

Second, if you love rodeo, do not be passive. Let your local committees and sponsors know of your support and appreciation. With the pressure rodeo is under in certain areas, even in Montana, your encouragement is vital. If the committees and sponsoring businesses are not aware of your support, they may decide putting on a rodeo is just not worth the effort. Then the remaining rodeos become an easier target for the activists.

Lastly, it is also important that fans and sponsors learn as much about the sport as they can to join in the effort of educating their, own uninitiated friends and acquaintances. If something is confusing or appears "cruel", please ask. There are lots of resource people out there, including local rodeo committeemen, competitors, stock contractors, your local veterinarian, and the PRCA whose website is http://www.prorodeo.com (click on their animal rights link). Incidentally, the PRCA was involved in real animal welfare decades before the first animal rights group was ever organized! I would also be happy to answer your questions when you see me in my travels around the state. Lastly, you can contact FRIENDS OF RODEO. This excellent non-profit organization was formed for and is dedicated to preserving the sport of rodeo against the attacks and propaganda of animal rights activism. Montana even has a chapter, and I would encourage everyone who appreciates rodeo to lend their support by simply joining. They also get involved in 4H activities, jackpots, livestock exhibitions, and horse shows. Membership dues, which are only $25, fund their important educational and legislative work. To join, send your name and address to "Friends of Rodeo, PO Box 425, Merced, CA 95341." Remember that the battle to protect rodeo is a "numbers game" for sponsors and politicians alike. Friends of Rodeo has a proven track record of effectively fighting the animal rights activists. By joining up, you, too, can help them have the "numbers" on rodeo's side.

(Kristy would like to acknowledge that specific facts found in this article came from information found in the January-March issue of Friends of Rodeo News.)



Kristy Mensik 2001 Miss Rodeo Momtana


Kristy is the 22-year-old daughter of Bob and Kathe Mensik of Red Lodge. A Public Relations major, she will finish her last year at Montana State University-Billings after concluding her reign as Miss Rodeo Montana in January. After graduation, she plans to work for a rodeo-related business or organization as their PR specialist. She has rodeoed in the NHSRA, NIRA, and the WPRA. If Kristy looks familiar, you may have seen her during the 2000 NFR as "the girlfriend" in the Montana Silversmiths commercial.

The Following Links Added By Webmaster

Miss Rodeo Montana Inc. Homepage

Miss Rodeo Montana Inc. Kristy Photos


Organization List

Friends of Rodeo
PO Box 425
Merced, CA 95341


Montana State University - Billings
1500 North 30th Street
Billings, Montana 59101-0298
(406) 657-2011 / 1-800-565-MSUB


The NILE - Northern International Livestock Exposition



PRCA Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association


PRCA Animal Welfare Guidelines Set Standards for Rodeo



NHSRA  National High School Rodeo Association



NIRA  The National Collegiate Rodeo Association



WPRA  Women's Pro Rodeo Association



Private resource pages

Pro Rodeo Home pages


Montana Silversmiths!


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