Position Statement: Rodeo

Policy type: Position statement
Reference: 3g
Status: Current
Date ratified: 1 June 2016 (to be reviewed in 2019)

Society’s expectations on the role of animals and how they are treated is constantly evolving. As society’s values change, veterinarians are ideally placed to positively influence society’s views on what is right, by developing and promoting policy, education and standards to improve the status, welfare and wellbeing of animals.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is concerned about the use of animals in events such as rodeo where the animal may be subjected to pain, suffering, fear or distress as a direct result of the handling and restraint of that animal. Veterinarians believe that some rodeo events may not be in the best interest of the animals’ wellbeing and may fail to meet the high standards of animal welfare that we expect as a society, and are prescribed under the Animal Welfare Act (1999). Unfortunately, there is a paucity of research regarding the welfare outcomes for animals involved in rodeo that allows the development of a scientifically informed position. The profession however, acknowledges that there are increasing public concerns regarding events like Rodeo as the expectations for higher standards of welfare for animals continues to grow in New Zealand.

While the NZVA supports and was involved in the development of the revised Code of Welfare for Rodeos, which aims to ensure that rodeos have the highest standards of husbandry, care and handling for animals, we are concerned about events that involve the use of young animals (Rope and Tie) or involve forcible physical restraint of mature animals that may result in musculoskeletal injuries and pain (Steer Wrestling, Team Roping).

The NZVA believes that the continued practice of these Rodeo events in New Zealand and the justification for the use of animals in this way must be re-evaluated to ensure that the sentience of animals is acknowledged and that animal welfare is protected.


  • strongly supports MPI investigating animal welfare complaints about rodeos, and we support measures to support compliance with the Code
  • recognises rodeos are contentious and that there are a range of views among the public, including a range of views amongst our own member veterinarians
  • recognises that veterinarians play an essential role in continuing to oversee and ensure the welfare of animals involved in rodeo events
  • recognises that society’s expectations of animal welfare standards are constantly evolving and that practices that were once deemed acceptable no longer are. It is important to continue to discuss and debate these issues, and to respond and act on public concerns.

Related pages

Recommended best practice: Rodeo Veterinarians