LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Spanish-style bull run that would have seen participants in shorts and red scarves scampering alongside the horned animals has been canceled in Southern California due to a permit denial, an organizer said on Thursday.
The cancellation follows a campaign by an animal rights group whose attorneys argue the bulls are terrified and harassed in the U.S. events, which have been held nine times since The Great Bull Run company began them in 2013.
While People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the runs in California, the Los Angeles County Fire Department in a separate action denied The Great Bull Run a permit for tents and stages for a planned November event in Pomona.
In the denial letter earlier this month, an official said the event on fairgrounds appears to violate a fire code requiring "reasonable public safety."
Pomona may be a long way from Pamplona, the Spanish site of the world's most famous running of the bulls, but organizers say they take their inspiration straight from that decades-old event in Spain.
They have put on nine runs in different parts of the United States, including one this past Saturday in Northern California in which one participant was hospitalized after being trampled by a bull, said Rob Dickens, chief operating officer for the Great Bull Run.
"What draws people to it is the danger, they want to test themselves," said Dickens, a former Wall Street attorney. "They want that true adrenaline experience and fear.”
Dickens, who with a business partner was inspired to bring the running of the bulls to the United States after a failed attempt to make travel reservations to jam-packed Pamplona, said his company has hosted 30,000 participants in total, including at events in Atlanta and Dallas.
He hopes to bring the event back to Southern California, even as the company works to stage runnings of the bulls in other parts of the country.
Five people have been struck by bulls and hospitalized, he said. None of the animals, which are shipped around in a double-decker truck and come from a rodeo company in Kentucky, have been hurt, he added.
Even so, PETA Foundation director of litigation Matthew Strugar said the event is frightening for the bulls.
"Perhaps these bulls are more accustomed to bizarre displays of human stupidity, having participated a number of times, but that only means their lives are filled with this fright,” Strugar said.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)