Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Horse-tripping bill sent to governor


by Betty Reid - Jul. 7, 2009 10:49 AM
The Arizona Republic

Horse tripping, a common sport in small rodeos where a galloping horse is roped to the ground for points and entertainment, would be illegal in Arizona if Gov. Jan Brewer signs the bill state lawmakers sent her last week.

Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams was an advocate for Senate Bill 1115, saying she considers the activity "barbaric."

"Few horses survive and it usually results in broken legs, internal damage, and death," Williams said. "Arizona allowing horse tripping was of great concern to animal rescue and care agencies."

The bill would ban the sport in Arizona counties, cities and incorporated communities and applies to horses, ponies, mules and donkeys.

People who knowingly trip animals for sport would face Class 1 misdemeanor, charges that are punishable by a two days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The penalties increase for repeat offenders.

The legislation excludes horse racing, training, branding or traditional rodeos such steer roping or bulldogging.

Not many people have heard of horse tripping as a sport because it's an underground sport like dog fighting or cockfighting, according to animal rights advocates, said Judy Lorch, Williams' assistant.

The issue was brought to the councilwoman's attention through the Valley's animal rights groups, Lorch said. Williams, who once supervised the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's animal cruelty unit, has a lot of contacts, she said.

Two bills about animals were packaged together under SB 1115. The other bill, introduced by Rep. Nancy Young Wright, D-Tucson, would give county officials authority to inspect privately owned dog kennels anytime once a written complaint is filed, Wright said.

Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, sponsored the legislation with the help of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix.

"This sounded odd and I didn't realize it went on in Arizona," Paton said. "I felt like it was something that needed to be fixed. I don't like to watch animals killed for sport."

Brewer has until Monday to act on it.

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