Keith Urban, Just Say No

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?” The 2015 Facebook cover photo for Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary in Victoria Australia has it right.

Too bad a certain Australian country artist didn’t get the kindness memo. The headliner for California Rodeo Salinas’ 2024 Big Week Kick Off Concert is country artist Keith Urban.

The California Rodeo Salinas is this state’s most prominent rodeo and one of the largest in the country. And the more you learn about this institutionalized spectacle, the more you come to understand that rodeo is not a sport, it’s glorified animal abuse dressed up as family entertainment. Abuse has no place in our society and should have no place on Mr. Urban’s performing calendar.  

At the 2019 rodeo in Salinas, video shows dogs attacking bulls, as they did at the end of each performance of the four day rodeo. The on site veterinarian, Dr. Tim Eastman, has watched year after year as the gruesome damage continues. In July 2015 anti-rodeo ads ran coinciding with the Salinas Rodeo, on CNN, Fox and MSNBC asking people to not attend the deadly Salinas event. In 2014 the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the rodeo on behalf of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) for underreporting the number of animals injured to the state veterinary medical board, as required by California law. In 2013 and 2014 SHARK attended the California Rodeo Salinas and videotaped more than forty injuries to animals. Only four of the forty-one injuries documented were reported. More details can be found here: In 2012 A horse broke its leg  during a bucking event and it hit the ground hard. He spent 45 minutes in incredible pain before being killed.

Mr. Urban and wife Nicole Kidman seem to be animal lovers. Their Sutton Forest, Australia farm has love for three cats, a chicken, ten fish, a bunny, six alpacas, a cow and a herd of Black Angus cattle. And there’s love for Jules, his dog, as he’s held close in a video promo for the ACM’s in Texas (Instagram, 8/15/2020). Fans all over the world collect huggable monkeys for Keith’s Monkeys & Mates Stuffed Animal Drive, so there’s lots of love for sick and hospitalized children on Valentine’s Day. But what about love for rodeo animals? Doesn’t every sentient being deserve a life free from abuse, injury and trauma?

Cow milking is pure animal cruelty masked as “entertainment”. In a loud bright arena two competitors on horseback chase down a lactating mother cow separated a from her nursing calf, rope her around her neck, force her into a headlock and milk her before a screaming audience. At the 2014 Rowell Ranch Rodeo a mama cow was so terrified she tried to jump a fence to escape and in her panic landed on her head, breaking her neck. She was euthanized. Are we entertained?
How family-friendly is Calf Roping? Rodeo is brutal exploitation calling itself fun. It’s a horrific act of violence towards a defenseless animal, a calf who would still be with its mother if not for a rodeo. The baby calf is forced to run more than 25mph before being “clotheslined”, body slammed to the ground and then, legs tied so it can’t move, is dragged by its neck. Sometimes calves are flipped so forcefully they end up being several feet in the air and land on their back. They suffer serious injuries to the neck & back, broken legs, spinal cord paralysis, severed trachea, internal hemorrhaging, damage to internal organs, bruises, torn ligaments. This is barbaric, and anyone with a heart knows it when you see it: Salinas California Rodeo July 2013: and
At no time was a veterinarian or any care observed. Having fun yet?

Other exhibitions of animal cruelty include:

BULL RIDING – broken legs and backs


STEER WRESTLING – broken necks & bones, torn ligaments, severed spinal cord, severed trachea, internal bleeding


BRONC RIDING –  broken necks & spine,back problems, leg tendon tears


BUCKING EVENTS – injured backs and legs


STEER TRIPPING – fractured horns, neck injuries, back & hip sores

The tools and methods of torment are shocking: flank straps, ropes, 1,000 volt electric prods, whips, raking spurs, sharp sticks, and caustic ointments. All cause physical and emotional pain. The animals can’t save themselves from being tortured, beaten, choked, slapped, stepped on, having their tails wrapped around metal poles, suffering 5,000-6,000-volt zaps from Hot-Shot devices. The majority of rodeo animals continue to be abused over and over until they’re too weak to perform. If an injury doesn’t kill them, blood loss might. Dr. C.G. Haber, a federal meat inspector for more than 30 years, describes the animals discarded from rodeos as being, “so extensively bruised that the only areas in which the skin was attached [to the flesh] was the head, neck, leg, and belly. I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine and, at times, puncturing the lungs. I have seen as much as 2 to 3 gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached skin.” 

As large animal veterinarian Dr. Peggy W Larson DVM MS JD says: “Animals should not be injured or killed for entertainment and that is what rodeo is. It bears no resemblance to ranching. I grew up on a cattle ranch in North Dakota and spent 8 years as a ranch veterinarian there. My ranch clients did not ride bulls, speed rope calves or make their expensive horses buck. Rodeo is not American ‘tradition’.”

By appearing as the concert headliner, Keith Urban signals his approval. As animal advocate Denise Larkin explains in her 2024 petition Ask Keith Urban to CANCEL his upcoming performance at the Salinas Rodeo”, Mr. Urban has “immense influence. By choosing not to perform at the rodeo you have the power to send a compelling message advocating for compassion, empathy and change.” You can sign her petition here: Other actions you can take are suggested by In Defense of Animals: educate others about the cruelty, boycott rodeo sponsors, organize a protest at a rodeo near you, lobby local and state government officials to outlaw events or ban gear designed to torment. Nearly all animal welfare organizations worldwide condemn rodeo for its inhumane practices. Keith Urban should have nothing to do with this masquerade. He’s an entertainer who puts on big shows, but rodeos are not entertainment, rodeo is as the IDA puts it, “the cruelest show on dirt”.

I would posit that all living beings deserve grace and it’s time for Keith Urban to show compassion for rodeo animals. It’s time he remembers the empathy he must have felt when he wrote the title of his first #1 country hit But for the Grace of God.

(Featured Image photo from: Greener Ideal)

4 Comments on "Keith Urban, Just Say No"

  1. Humans are truly the worst species on earth!!! I’m ashamed for all these “humans” who treat the animal with no regard,respect and humanity! SHAME,SHAME!!!

  2. Humans are the plague of the earth !
    STOP abusing and torturing animals trying to be a man !
    No more rodeos ‘

  3. Rodeos & Bullies Riding are sick entertainment for sick people! In this violent age, it is imperative to fight this violence to unconsenting, innocent animals!

  4. Magali Fanchon | February 21, 2024 at 4:27 pm | Reply

    Human is the plague of the earth, human is , the most cruel thing, I’m
    Ashamed to be part of this race, it’s disgusting

Tell readers what you think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.