After questions were raised by animal rights groups about whether the Great Bull Run at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers on Oct. 19 had filled out the necessary paperwork with the state Department of Agriculture, Bull Run organizers say the necessary forms have been submitted and the event is still taking place.
"There's a zero percent chance the event will not happen," said event organizer Rob Dickens.
Ga. Department of Agriculture spokesperson Mary Kathryn Yearta confirmed organizers had turned in their application for their permit. She could not confirm the status of those permits since the office is closed until Tuesday, due to Columbus Day.
A city spokesperson also said the event is still on as scheduled. The event has reportedly fulfilled local requirements and regulations, including being bonded and insured.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund had raised questions about whether the event had filled out a state form regarding bringing livestock into the state.
Dickens said it was a formality that may or may not have been needed, since it applied to animals that were being sold or exhibited and the Bull Run is doing neither.
"We'd been in discussions with the Department of Agriculture for months. They had not asked us to submit it," said Dickens.
But, he said, the event organizers filled out the paperwork anyway and submitted it to the state veterinarian. "He has it, he approved it. We're fine."
He said more than 3,000 tickets have been sold already and the remaining spots on later runs will likely be sold out on the day of the run.
Animal rights groups have been petitioning the park for months to cancel the event. The Georgia Animal Rights and Protection group posted a form letter to be sent to officials and an online petition at www.change.org/petitions/conyers-leaders-cancel-the-great-bull-run-at-the-georgia-international-horse-park
The letter cites broken legs and other injuries and trauma that the bulls can suffer in the run. "There is no way to ensure that the animals won't suffer or be injured at these events. After having been loaded onto trucks and herded into an arena filled with thousands of screaming people, the bulls will bolt out of the pen in a state of panic, confusion and terror when the starting gate opens. As they rush through the chute, they can crash into the barriers, fall and break their legs or collide with and injure each other."
The letter goes on to ask for the city to use other means that does not put animals at risk. "Another option would be to replace the live bulls with humans in bull costumes..."
The event recreates the running of the bulls in Spain with people running ahead and alongside of bulls. After several runs, the event will also hold a "Tomato Royale" tomato fight.
For more information on the Great Bull Run at the Horse Park, go to http://www.thegreatbullrun.com/events/atlanta-2013/