The Humane Society Veterinarian Medical Association (HSVMA) has sent a letter to the Parliament of Catalonia that states that bullfighting is a brutal event where the bull’s pain receptors are constantly stimulated.
Troubled that claims which cannot be scrutinized by the scientific community could influence a Parliamentary decision on bullfights, the HSVMA, along with several authorities in the fields of veterinary medicine and animal ethics, have urged the Parliament of Catalonia to disregard suggestions that the fighting bull might not suffer significantly during a bullfight.
The Parliament of Catalonia is expected to vote on a legislative proposal to ban bullfighting in this Northeastern region of Spain on July 28th. Dr. Illera, a veterinarian from Madrid, has recently spoken before the parliament on behalf of the bullfighting lobby. During his presentation, this veterinarian made some statements that could suggest that the bulls do not suffer during the bullfight.
Citing published references of the scientific literature, the HSVMA veterinarians and animal behavior experts point out “that the evidence that cattle are capable of experiencing pain and suffering is overwhelming”.
The HSVMA warns that “The claim that pain perception can be bred out of a line of animals is a very serious assertion, since a false claim would undoubtedly lead to substantial animal suffering.” The letter further points out that “the work of Dr. Illera and others questioning pain during bullfights has yet to be published in a respected International Journal … (and) is not substantial enough to serve as a basis for any parliamentary decision regarding bullfights”.
Among the signatories of the HSVMA letter, are renowned bovine practitioners, Dr. Jim Reynolds and Dr. Peggy Larson. As former chair of the Association of Bovine Practitioners Animal Welfare Committee, Dr. Reynolds consults regularly on international bovine projects. Dr. Peggy Larson has served as a veterinary medical officer with the United States Department of Agriculture and has participated in animal welfare inspections, including the use of bulls for entertainment.
The letter closes by stating that these experts believe that the “fighting bulls, like other bovines, feel pain and suffer in the bull ring” and that this “opinion is based on the irrefutable science of anatomy, physiology and neurology governing the pain receptors in the skin and muscle of bovines”.
The HSVMA and the prominent veterinarians and animal ethicists that have cosigned the letter, are now the 4th group of veterinarians and experts to make a public statement against bullfights. The Spanish Association of Veterinarians for the Abolition of Tauromachy (AVAT), the French Collective of Veterinarians Opposed to the Corrida, and the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the University of Valencia have already made public statements that urge governments to abolish bullfighting on the grounds that this practice is unacceptably cruel.