In Redford Township, Michigan high school students rode bareback on donkeys while trying to score points playing basketball. The Friday evening game drew controversy between the Southeastern Michigan Animal Rights Team (S.M.A.R.T.) and some parents and faculty. The tradition has been going on for more than 30 years and raises money for the school's Blue and Gold Club according to wxyz.com.
Last year People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) carried signs which stated "Cruelty is not entertainment," and "No excuse for animal abuse." This year protestors from S.M.A.R.T. carried similar signs and stated there are many more humane methods to raise funds for school activities such as candle sales, cookie sales, car washes, etc.
"Donkey basketball fundraisers send kids the message that it's OK to abuse and humiliate those who are weaker than they are. Children who are exposed to animal abuse are taught the dangerous lesson that cruelty is acceptable," states the PETA website.
Many other school districts have cancelled the activity because of past criticism. Animal supporters claim the donkeys have to deal with bright lights, excessive noise, and are subjected to heavy travel schedules. Critics say the donkeys are frequently dragged, punched, and kicked as students riding bareback try to get the donkeys moving faster.
Buckeye Donkey Ball, the Ohio based company that supplies the donkeys say the donkeys are well cared for and even though they travel five to six nights a week, they are not mistreated and always have grain waiting for them after the game.
"Really folks, most of these kids have no experience riding donkeys. You can't think of something more humane to raise money for activities," stated Brendan Corcoran, of Loxahatchee, Fla. These animals don't need this kind of treatment. I thought we were finally getting away through to people about abusing animals. Donkeys weren't designed to be basketball players."
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