A debate over proposed new restrictions on rodeo events in Santa Clara County has developed a three-way faceoff among county officials, animal rights activists and Mexican rodeo participants.
Numerous county officials, including Supervisor Don Gage, have supported a new animal cruelty ordinance that would ban the practice of "steer tailing" at local rodeos, which they say is particularly brutal compared to other submission techniques used on farm animals at American rodeos.
Those opposed to the ban say that steer tailing is an essential aspect of Mexican-American rodeos, or charreadas, and singling it out among other rodeo events is discriminatory.
And animal activists support the ban, but say it doesn't go far enough in eliminating the cruelty that is generally characteristic of rodeos and circuses, which are also a subject of the ordinance.
For nearly a year the draft ordinance has bounced around among various county agencies and public hearings. At the November meeting of the Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee, Director of Agriculture and Environmental Management Greg Van Wassenhove reiterated county administrators' support for the current draft.