The slow torture of a defenseless bull is not a sport. Bullfighting puts Spain in a very bad light and does little credit to the nation and its people. Unfortunately, tourists are also helping to keep this cruel practice alive.

I was pleased that a petition to end the Toro de la Vega bull fiesta in Valladolid, Spain, received more than 71,000 signatures. What makes this fiesta all the more horrifying is that it isn't a bullfight with all the pageantry that Hemingway wrote about in "The Sun Also Rises." For this spectacle, a bull is chased out of town and into the surrounding countryside by a crowd of people on foot and horseback. The poor animal is then repeatedly stuck with spears before being stabbed to death.

Why would anyone indulge in such cruelty toward a defenseless animal? Animal welfare groups including Humane Society International/Europe have now initiated the "Break a Spear" campaign. Break a Spear refers to a medieval tradition of saving someone's honor. In this case, supporters of the campaign honor the bull and declare their objection to the cruelty and special status this fiesta enjoys. The Toro de la Vega is promoted by Spain as an event of "Regional Tourist Interest" since 1980. This, despite the fact that Spanish veterinarians and biologists have endorsed the "Break a Spear" campaign, and openly stated that the fiesta represents the worse kind of animal torture.

There are signs that the Spanish people are coming around to a more humane way of thinking. Last September, the Parliament of Caledonia, which includes Barcelona, banned bullfighting in the region. We should all applaud this humane development, but there is still much to be done.

Spanish culture is flamenco dancing, paella, and the treasures of the Prado. There is no place for animal cruelty. I truly believe that we should judge a country and its people by the way they treat their animals. More details of the Break a Spear campaign can be found at http://rompreunalanza.com.

Cathy Kangas is a member of the Humane Society of the United States Board of Directors. Kangas, owner of PRAI Beauty Inc., started Beauty with a Cause, and commits a percentage of her company's profits to help animal welfare organizations around the world.

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