State grants permits for ‘Great Bull Run’
by Jeff Martin, Associated Press
October 17, 2013 11:02 PM | 578 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA — Just days before daredevil runners plan to dodge a stampede of bulls at a Georgia horse park, state agriculture officials approved last-minute permits paving the way for the event.

The Cotati, Calif.-based Animal Legal Defense Fund discovered last week that needed state permits had not been granted for Saturday’s planned Great Bull Run in Conyers. The animal advocacy group has sought to block the event from taking place.

Organizers scrambled to file permits late Friday, saying there had been a misunderstanding about what was needed.

Those permits have now been approved, Georgia Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Yearta told The Associated Press.

Saturday’s bull run at the Georgia International Horse Park, which hosted equestrian events in the 1996 Olympics, is the second U.S. event this year for the group The Great Bull Run.

Organizers expect 3,000 runners plus another 4,000 spectators, assuming it doesn’t rain and keep some people home, said Rob Dickens, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run.

An August run was held at a Virginia drag-racing strip, resulting in at least one injury to a runner that organizers described as minor.

“This chaotic event poses an alarming threat to animal welfare and to public health,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement.

“Local officials must act immediately to protect their citizens and shut down this cruel contest.”

Dickens said veterinarians will monitor the health of the bulls. They’re being supplied by ranches.

The event, inspired by the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, has future stops planned in Texas, Florida, California, Illinois and Pennsylvania. After the Georgia event, the next one is set for Dec. 7 at the Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is looking at state laws in Texas and California, and exploring the idea of taking legal action in those states to stop events there, said Jessica Blome, a staff attorney with the group.

“We think the government has an obligation to protect animals and its citizens, and we’re trying to compel the government to do that,” Blome said.

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