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Bear of a ride

by David Cole
| April 11, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d’ALENE — A motorcycle group here rode on Saturday to raise much-needed funding to complete construction of a sanctuary for bears which have been brutally injured after being forced to be combatants in a bloody sport in Pakistan.

In that Middle East country, people remove the teeth and claws of bears, tie the animals by the neck to a post and pit them against specially-trained aggressive dogs. The cruel entertainment, called bear-baiting, is carried out at public fairs. Bears sustain ripped noses and mouths, among other injuries, and are permanently scarred, said Rick Padilla, who organized the “Ride for the Bears” on Saturday.

“The dogs’ powerful jaws get hold of a bear’s face, tearing the sensitive skin and leaving agonizing wounds,” Padilla said. “People need to know the gruesomeness of this.”

Bears endure the cruelty numerous times.

Padilla, of Coeur d’Alene, started the group Motorcyclists Against the Cruel Treatment of Animals, which is working to raise money for the cause along with the World Society for the Protection of Animals, based in Europe. The groups also are seeking to increase public awareness about the cruelty.

Riders Saturday cruised from the Coeur d’Alene Pet Resort at 125 E. Hazel Ave. to Murray in Shoshone County for a barbecue at the Bedroom Goldmine Bar.

Saturday’s event “didn’t turn out as big as we thought because the weather, because it was cold,” Padilla said. He said there were about 30 riders, who paid an entry fee and made donations. The Bedroom Goldmine Bar donated part of the sale of T-shirts.

Padilla said the groups are planning more events.

About half of the approximately $150,000 to $250,000 needed to build the sanctuary has been raised. Work has already started, which will include enclosures, a medical clinic and natural habitat areas, Padilla said.

The new bear sanctuary is near the town of Balkassar, Pakistan, and the land has already been purchased, he said. The sanctuary will be the second to open in Pakistan. The first one, which was built by the World Society for the Protection of Animals and is called Kund Park Bear Sanctuary, is filled to capacity.

The goal is to have this second one completed this spring sometime, he said.

About 230 bears have been rescued to date, and there are about 70 left to be rescued, “but can’t be until Balkassar is built,” Padilla said.

At the sanctuary the bears will be able to live out their lives in peace, he said.

Community donations: Checks made out to the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Send the checks to Attention: MACTA (Motorcyclists Against the Cruel Treatment of Animals), Coeur d’Alene Pet Resort, 125 E. Hazel, Coeur d’Alene, ID, 83814.

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