Seven people have died and around 300 more were injured at controversial bull festivals in Spain this summer.
Bous al Carrer (“bulls on the street”) takes place each year in the eastern region of Valencia. It is a centuries-old tradition that sees people run alongside the animals.
José María Ángel, Valencia’s secretary for safety and emergencies, urged attendees of the festivals not to “lose respect” for the bulls.
They added: “The bulls kill and these festivals carry a high risk.”
On August 29, the Bous al Carrer advisory committee held an emergency meeting to “review the current situation of the festivities and to listen to those involved in order to come up with preventive campaigns and more training for clubs and organizers.”
Anyone wishing to “run with the bulls” must be over the age of 16. They must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Ángel added that such events “bring with them an individual and collective risk, and so participation requires maturity.”
Deaths and injuries at bull-running festivals are far from an anomaly. Also this summer, a further three people died at similar events in Madrid, Castilla y Leon, and Navarra.
According to CBS, more than 30 people have been killed at the festivals since 2015.
Animal welfare concerns
Unsurprisingly, these events come with a huge animal welfare cost. The League Against Cruel Sports told Plant Based News (PBN) that bull running involves “layers of animal cruelty.”
“They’re forced to flee in fear and confusion down tight alleys on slippery cobbles, chased and harassed by baying crowds all the way,” said Nick Weston, head of campaigns.
What’s more, after the festivals take place, bulls will generally end up in the bullfighting ring. There, they will be killed in front of thousands of paying spectators.
PETA’s Vice President of Programmes Elisa Allen told PBN: “Seven dead humans and umpteen more bulls who were stabbed to death in the ring after the ‘run’ can be added to the long list of compelling reasons why bullfighting must be banned in Valencia and throughout the rest of Spain.”
“Before these “fights”, the bulls are stampeded and charge forward in a panicked frenzy while humans who are desperate to show they are risk-takers join them in extremely dangerous runs,” she continued. “Enough is enough when it comes to barbaric events rooted in the distant past, when we didn’t understand anything about other sentient beings’ interests, fear, and pain.”
Campaigns to end running with the bulls
The Spanish animal rights party Pacma has maintained that a total ban would end the suffering of these animals.
“Any measure taken that isn’t the prohibition of all bull festivals will be useless,” a statement from the group reads. “These events are based on extreme cruelty and violence. As such, they are an authentic torture for animals and a huge danger to all people. This is about archaic traditions that foment violence and poison society.”