VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 35   |   AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 6, 2011


PETA asks Cave Creek to rethink Running of the Bulls

‘The town of Cave Creek welcomes and is excited about the event and it will bring a lot of business to Cave Creek’

CAVE CREEK – On August 22, the mayor and council received a letter from Gemma Vaughan of PETA’s cruelty investigations department requesting the town “rethink” hosting a Running of the Bulls event on Oct. 14 and 15, “for the sake of the safety and welfare of both the people and animals involved.”

Vaughan claimed, “Worldwide condemnation of the annual – and most well-known – Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain is growing because it is cruel to animals and dangerous for people.”
While the annual Running of the Bulls event in Spain utilizes fighting bulls and is held in the streets of Pamplona, the event proposed for Cave Creek will employ rodeo bulls and be held in a contained course on T.C. Thorstenson’s nine-acre parcel west of the Buffalo Chip Saloon and Foothills Granite.  PHOTO/perthnow.com.au
While acknowledging there were some fundamental differences between the proposed Cave Creek event and the one which takes place in Pamplona, Vaughan said the basic liabilities at play can be illustrated by the fact 200-300 people are injured in the latter event each year.
She stated, “Thousands of people have been hurt, some fatally, after falling, getting stuck in pile-ups, being trampled or gored.”

Commenting about the proposed Cave Creek event, Vaughan said panicked bulls, weighing up to 1,500 pounds, “will clamber through the ‘courses’ where they can injure each other, crash into the sides of barriers, and seriously harm participants and bystanders.”

According to Vaughan, Phil Immordino, whose company is organizing the event in Cave Creek, has been unable to find a host city since 2002 “due to liability and condemnation.”
Vaughan concluded by saying, “We know Cave Creek can hold successful alternative events that don’t put tourists and residents, and animals, at risk. On behalf of our complainants and our thousands of members in Arizona, we thank you for your consideration.”

While the proposed Running of the Bulls is not a town-sponsored event, Immordino has been issued a special event permit by the town to hold the event on T.C. Thorstenson’s property just to the west of the Buffalo Chip Saloon and Foothills Granite.

The last time animal welfare organizations and individuals weighed in on an event in Cave Creek was five years ago when former Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Lewis brought the Carson & Barnes Circus, which was under investigation for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, to Cave Creek for the second time.
In closing, Vaughan asked, “May we hear from you soon?”

Responding to PETA’s allegations, Immordino said, “The reason we have not done a running of the bulls since 2002 is because of 9-11 and the liability insurance went up; that is the only reason.”

Immordino went on to say, “The bulls are the stars of the show. They are treated like royalty. They do not get hurt, they love the exercise. It’s fun for the bulls to run after people.”

Despite no one ever being hurt and “the many precautions we’ve taken,” Immordino said, “PETA hates the zoo, circus and rodeos” and “complains about everything dealing with animals.”

He said, “The town of Cave Creek welcomes and is excited about the event and it will bring a lot of business to Cave Creek.”

The town does indeed welcome the event in the hopes that it will bring business to Cave Creek.

However, on Monday, Town Manager Usama Abujbarah stated the town has rescinded the special event permit previously issued, citing the town will not sanction the event without increased insurance coverage, which Immordino claims is both cost prohibitive and unnecessary.

It does not mean the event will not go on as planned, said Abujbarah. It only means the town will not sanction the event or take on any liability as a result of the event.

According to Abujbarah, the Running of the Bulls, which will be completely contained on private property, is no different than the amateur bull riding that takes place at the Buffalo Chip Saloon every Wednesday night, where waivers are signed by the participants and liability insurance is carried by both Larry Wendt, who owns the Buffalo Chip, and David Smith, who operates the bull riding events.

Because this type of event is uncharted waters for Cave Creek, the town simply did not feel comfortable sanctioning such an event with Immordino providing less than $5 million in liability coverage.

On Tuesday, Planning Director Ian Cordwell provided Immordino a letter reconfirming the town’s position on the event.

Cordwell stated since the event will be held entirely on Thorstenson’s property, no permission is required from the town.

However, since off-site parking is required for events held by Thorstenson and because this particular event is being held concurrently with the Taste of Cave Creek, Cordwell said the town is requiring a permit from Thorstenson for parking to be located on Bob Kite’s property.