Animal rescue organization helps head off planned cowboy monkey rodeo

MANCHESTER — When Susan Linker, CEO of Our Companions Animal Rescue, heard about plans for a cowboy monkey rodeo show in Hartford, she knew she had to act.

Linker says she received an e-mail alerting her to the Hartford Yard Goats plan to host the show and asking if anything could be done to stop it.

“At first, I thought it was a joke because I couldn’t fathom something like that ever being considered entertainment,” Linker says.

The cowboy monkey rodeo is a popular act at county fairs and minor league baseball games. The show features a capuchin monkey strapped to the back of a border collie while the dog runs and herds sheep.

The Hartford Yard Goats planned to bring the rodeo to their entertainment lineup this summer after a June 14 game, but Linker and other animal advocates sprang into action.

Our Companions Animal Rescue is a Manchester-based nonprofit that operates an animal rehabilitation and rescue center on 43 acres in Ashford and the Valerie Friedman Program Center on Sanrico Drive that is focused on “pet-retention” services.

It’s not the first time the rodeos have run into opposition.

The dogs run up to 30 miles per hour according to a fact sheet from the Humane Society, which opposes the events.

What the monkeys experience during the show is comparable to what a human could experience during a motor vehicle accident, the organization says.

Linker says she assumed her “shock, outrage, and disgust” at the show would resonate with the public and shared a post on Facebook asking people to reach out to the Yard Goats and request they cancel the rodeo. The post was shared 230 times, and after only a few days the Yard Goats decided to cancel the event.

The Yard Goats have declined to comment, but confirmed that they will not be having the rodeo at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

Linker and Our Companions partnered with Connecticut Votes for Animals, a statewide animal rights lobbying group, to make phone calls and send e-mails to the Yard Goats management.

Our Companions has advocated before for animal-friendly legislation in Connecticut, but Linker says this was a unique and extreme situation.

Minor League Baseball has taken a stand against using acts such as the cowboy money rodeo.

Its president and CEO, Pat O’Conner, said in a 2016 statement that Minor League Baseball does not support or encourage “using animal acts of any kind, especially animal acts for which the Humane Society has expressed great concern.”

Linker says while she is relieved that the cowboy-monkey rodeo won’t visit Hartford, she still feels uneasy knowing that this company will travel to other states.

Advocates should keep alert for other such cases of abuse around the country, she says, particularly during Minor League Baseball games and local fairs.

Originally published by the Journal Inquirer