By Claire Oldfather, Peta actvist

THIS week, tourists will head to Pamplona, Spain, to participate in the annual Running of the Bulls during the San Fermín festival. Some will lose their nerve; others may be gored. But one thing is for certain: by the end of the festival, at least 42 bulls will be dead.

To raise awareness of this bloodshed, I joined supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) from all over the world in a dramatic, street theatre-style protest last Friday, the day before the torture and killing of traumatised bulls began.

At Pamplona’s iconic Plaza Consistorial we stood nearly naked in a “crime scene” cordoned off with yellow tape before collapsing to the ground. Each activist lay inside the outline of a bull to remind onlookers that animals are made of flesh and blood – and feel fear and pain, just as we do. Next to us, signs proclaiming “Bulls Killed in Pamplona” and “Stop Bullfighting,” spelled out both the carnage awaiting the bulls and our determination to consign that violence to the history books.

Why did I travel almost 1,000 miles to do this? Because travel agencies promote the Running of the Bulls as a test of nerve and resolve – something to cross off your bucket list – without telling the tourists that the bull runs, which are held each morning for eight days, are only a prelude to bullfights later in the day. Stabbed and mutilated, the bulls will be dead before the visitors board their flights home.

Nor do they tell you that ahead of each run, the bulls are kept in darkness until a pair of rockets go off, signalling that the event is beginning. Driven into the blinding sunlight, they scramble through the slippery cobblestone streets only to be tormented by runners – mostly tourists – who scream at them and force them to run. Terrified and disorientated, they often crash into each other and sometimes slip and fall, smash into buildings, or break their horns. The 800-metre stampede ends at the bullring.

Almost every year, runners, too, get hurt – often trampled or gored, sometimes fatally. Fifteen have died since record-keeping began in 1924, and on average, about 40 people are injured each year. So far in 2019, three men, aged 74, 71 and 19, have been killed at other bull-running festivals in Spain.

But while the runners get to decide for themselves whether they think they can outrun a panic-stricken animal, the bulls have no choice: they’re forced to run.

Every night, the bulls, already confused and exhausted from the frenzy of the run, are led into the bullring to fight to the death – their own. The torture begins as the picadores – bullfighters on horseback – pierce the bull with lances. The horses, who are blindfolded, may also sustain serious injuries if they fall and can’t avoid a charging bull. Next, men with harpoon-like banderillas plunge their weapons into the bull’s back, causing him agonising pain.

Finally, the matador enters and stabs the bull in the back with a long sword. If the bull doesn’t die, the matador uses other weapons, including daggers, to cut his spinal cord. Before his body is dragged from the arena in chains, his ears and tail may be cut off as vile “trophies” for the matador, even if he is still conscious.

A few minutes later, another bull enters the ring and the sadistic cycle starts again.

It is our responsibility to show kindness to all beings and to reject cruelty in all its forms. One way we can do that is by refusing to attend the Running of the Bulls or any other bullfighting festival – and by urging anyone who will listen to do the same. If we all take a stand, we can put an end to this carnage.