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Stand up for animals in the 2021 election

Will you vote for animals?

This election, you have the power to vote for a kinder Canada for all animals.

Take action for animals in the election!

Contact your candidates and get familiar with each party’s election promises.

2021 is the first year that animal protection is being widely recognized as an election issue in Canada, with commitments made by a number of parties on animal issues.

This is great news for the growing number of Canadians who would like to see a more compassionate country for all who live here. In fact, a 2021 survey from World Animal Protection found that 70% of Canadians believe animal protection and welfare are somewhat or very important issues in terms of deciding who they will vote for.

You can find an overview of the animal issues being raised by advocates this year and links to all five of the main political parties’ platforms in this post from Humane Canada. The 2021 policy platform from Humane Canada offers recommendations in the following areas:

Legal framework and governance

Canada’s legislation lags behind other countries on the international stage, from the UK’s recognition of animals as sentient beings to Mexico’s recent ban on cosmetic animal testing. Recommendations in this area include creating a ministry or interdepartmental group as the central hub of animal protection in federal government.

Public safety

Evidence shows that there is a link between violence against animals and violence against humans. By formally recognizing the Violence Link, Canada can begin to take steps to ensure better public safety for both humans and animals.

Companion animals

Companion animals are a key part of many families in Canada; they share our lives and homes and offer many mental health benefits. One of the recommendations for companion animals involves ensuring access to veterinary care. Currently, people who are living on a low income who cannot afford veterinary care are often forced to make the difficult choice to surrender their beloved animal to a shelter in order to get the care they need. This practice harms both the human and the animal by breaking up their bond and discounting their mental health. The Canadian government can improve access to these essential services by implementing a federally supported preventative and affordable veterinary care strategy.

Farmed animals

Canada’s regulations around the protection of farmed animals are in need of updates and adequate enforcement. Recommendations include addressing outdated and inhumane practices currently being used in animal agriculture, such as painful confinement and excessive travel times. Animal advocates can also reduce the suffering of farmed animals by calling on the government to support a transition to and subsidies for more sustainable plant-based farming.

Wild animals

Zoonotic disease (disease transmitted from animals to humans) from wildlife accounts for at least 70 per cent of all emerging diseases, including COVID-19. The Canadian government must take action to end Canada’s part in the cruel and dangerous global wildlife trade in order to improve the well-being of animals and reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Here is how you can use your voting power to speak up for animals.

Take action

1. Call on your local candidates to commit to action for animals both during and after the election.

You can email all your local candidates in just a few clicks by filling out the form below.

2. Watch the animal protection debate to hear each party’s stance on animal protection.

The animal protection debate was hosted by Animal Justice, Montreal SPCA, Nation Rising, Vancouver Humane Society, and World Animal Protection on Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. PST. All parties with representation in Parliament were invited to participate. The debate was moderated by journalist Holly Lake.

You can watch a recording of the debate below:

3. Call your candidates to ask that they make animal protection a priority.

You can find the contact information for all your local candidates on the Elections Canada website. Type in your postal code and select “Who are the candidates in my electoral district?”

4. Share this page on social media with #IVoteForAnimals

5. Vote on election day!

Vancouver Humane Society is committed to working with the winning candidates to build a kinder Canada for all animals.

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News/Blog

5 activities to help children love animals

Looking for animal-friendly activities for kids? Try these 5 activities to help your children develop a love of animals!

There is something special about the bond between children and animals.

Children are fascinated by animals; they are able to connect with them on an emotional level and empathize with their perspective. Having empathy for animals helps children to grow in a number of ways. Children who learn to respect animals also:

  • develop a respect for other lives
  • learn to read nonverbal cues
  • develop lifelong compassion

But how can parents and caregivers help children foster a love of animals?

This question has come up recently in the Lower Mainland, where the City of New Westminster launched a public consultation seeking feedback and ideas from residents for alternatives to the Queen’s Park petting farm. This is a great move toward more animal-friendly public spaces; you can read more about why replacing the petting farm is a win for animal welfare and public health and safety in our latest blog post.

Luckily, there are many ways for children to develop empathy for animals outside of petting farms. Keep reading for more ideas!

1. Go for a wildlife walk

Two young children looking out at seagulls on the ocean.

New Westminster and the rest of the Lower Mainland are filled with beautiful walking trails! You can also spot many species of urban wildlife like squirrels and pigeons around the city. Try visiting a local trail or park to look for birds, squirrels, frogs, and other small wildlife.

Seeing wild animals can give children the same sense of wonder as seeing captive ones—without causing animal suffering. Bonus: this activity has an added educational element! Viewing wildlife from a distance helps children to understand that humans share our environment with many animals who should be given space and respect.

2. Watch a wildlife webcam

Rubbing Beach – Underwater powered by EXPLORE.org

See for yourself what it looks like when the orcas in British Columbia’s Johnstone Strait take part in the unique behavior called “beach rubbing.” Watch live…

Looking to learn about other ecosystems and animals a little farther from home? There are many webcams set up around the world to observe wildlife in their natural habitats, like this daily live safari or these orca cameras right here in B.C.

Talk about what the animals are doing, such as looking for food to eat or caring for their babies. Caregivers can also introduce children to the concept of conservation by explaining that it’s important to have spaces in nature where animals can live free.

3. Visit a farm sanctuary

A happy toddler pets a calf at a farm sanctuary

If you’re able to travel a little farther, consider visiting a farm sanctuary or even volunteering! Farm sanctuaries value compassion for all living beings, so children can learn about having empathy for animals and creating a kinder world. You can find a map of farm sanctuaries near you from P.E.A.C.E.

If you don’t have the chance to take a day trip, you can still learn all about farm sanctuaries and meet some of the animals with this informative video from The Happy Herd.

4. Interact with companion animals

A girl lies on the floor with a dog

Having companion animals at home is a great way for children to learn to care for another life. However, not everyone can have animals in their home. If you are able to, consider visiting or meeting up with a friend and their companion animal so your child can meet and interact with them. Families with older children can also check whether their local animal shelter has youth volunteer opportunities.

Interacting with companion animals can help children to learn social skills like nonverbal cues. For instance, teaching a child that a dog wants to be patted when she is nuzzling, sniffing them, and wagging her tail; or that she wants her own space when she begins to walk away.

5. Read stories with animal characters

Storytime with Esther T.W. Pig: The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig

Relax, sit down, and have a listen to “The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig”. You can also check out a digital copy of the book, FREE of charge, on o…

Children do not need to touch or even see animals to love them—just ask any kid who is obsessed with dinosaurs! Books do a great job of helping children empathize with characters they would not necessarily meet in their day to day life, including animals. Here are some of our favourite children’s books with animal characters:

  • The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig (recommended for ages 4-8 years)
  • Charlotte’s Web (recommended for ages 7-10 years)
  • Black Beauty (recommended for ages 8-12 years)

After you read with your child, you can help them understand even more about the animal in the story by looking up child-friendly facts about that species.

Looking for more animal-friendly activities for kids?

Find more resources to help children learn about animals on the Vancouver Humane Society website.

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News/Blog

Take action for animals at the New Westminster Petting Farm

Take action for animals at the Queen’s Park Petting Farm

Tell the City of New Westminster you support their move toward animal-friendly public spaces

Will you support animal-friendly public spaces in New Westminster?

Earlier this year, VHS wrote to New Westminster City Council regarding the Queen’s Park Petting Farm. We shared a briefing note highlighting our evidence-based concerns related to animal welfare, public health and safety, and public education. The note included considerations such as:

  • Petting zoos are stressful for animals, who have little or no way to escape from unwanted petting, chasing, noise, and crowds.
  • Studies show that petting zoos can host diseases such as E. coli and Salmonella and can be a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Most children who visit petting zoos do not gain any new knowledge about animals or conservation. (See these animal-friendly alternatives for more educational family activities.)
  • The smell of animals in petting zoos can attract coyotes.

We recommended that municipal decision-makers close the petting farm and are pleased to see City Council moving in this direction. The City of New Westminster recently launched a public consultation seeking feedback and ideas from residents for an alternative long-term future for the space at Queen’s Park.

Take action:

1. Residents of New Westminster can participate in the online forum now!

We’re encouraging New Westminster residents to participate in the consultation and show their support for closing the petting farm and shifting the space to be focused instead on local, sustainable food production. This is a prime opportunity to improve public access to humane, healthy, and sustainable plant-based food. Share your excitement and ideas with municipal decision-makers!

Some ideas that have been suggested in the consultation are:

  • A community garden with plant-based food preparation lessons
  • A space for seasonal classes such as preparing balcony produce planters
  • A pollination garden

For more background information and VHS’s recommendations to City Council, read our briefing note on the Queen’s Park Petting Farm.

2. Know someone in New Westminster?

Share this page with your animal-friendly friends and family using the buttons below.

3. Share the tweets below.

Thank you @New_Westminster for taking action to create animal-friendly alternatives to the Queen’s Park Petting Farm.
Vancouver Humane Society
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The move by @New_Westminster to reimagine the Queen’s Park Petting Farm space is great news for animal welfare, public health and safety, and family education.
Vancouver Humane Society
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Petting farms are stressful for animals and can be a health hazard for humans. I support the move by @New_Westminster toward a more animal-friendly and family-friendly public space in Queen’s Park.
Vancouver Humane Society
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Read the briefing note:

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Your input helps animals!

Vancouver Humane Society is planning our animal advocacy work for the next year—and we need your help! Can you take three minutes to fill out the 2022 Vancouver Humane Society survey and share your animal protection priorities for 2022?

Your input will help us to make important decisions as we work together to build a kinder world for animals by:

  • Targeting key decision-makers to reduce animal suffering across B.C. and Canada
  • Working with governments and agencies to implement more humane policies and practices
  • Assisting placed-at-risk people and their companion animals to access the veterinary care they need
  • Sharing important information to help people make compassionate choices

To show our appreciation for your time completing the survey, you will have the option to enter to win a $50 gift card to Vegan Supply.

Take the Vancouver Humane Society survey by clicking the button below or by scrolling down. You can learn more about VHS’s current work to help animals in our latest news section.

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Opinion Editorial

It’s an inconvenient truth that fish are sentient and feel pain

Article originally published in The Georgia Straight.

Ready for another inconvenient truth?  Here’s one: fish feel pain, are sentient, and are far more intelligent than we thought.

Even more inconvenient—we need to do something about it.

The scientific evidence that fish are sentient (able to feel and perceive things) has been piling up over the past few decades, but this information, much less its implications, has yet to permeate public consciousness.

When people think of fish, it’s usually as food, sport, or something to look at in an aquarium. Are we ready to accept that fish have feelings?

There is now a scientific consensus that fish feel pain. Research has shown that, like mammals, they have pain receptors (nociceptors) that detect injury. And, although their nervous systems and brains are different from ours, they are capable of experiencing pain. Studies have found that fish change their behaviour when subjected to a painful event and that painkillers prevent that behaviour, indicating that they are suffering, not just physically reacting to a negative stimulus.

In her groundbreaking 2010 book Do Fish Feel Pain?, biologist Victoria Braithwaite summed up her view on the issue: “I have argued that there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals—and more than there is for human neonates and preterm babies.”

But fish can feel more than pain. Research has shown they can experience feardepression, and pleasure. The case for fish sentience has been eloquently made by Jonathan Balcombe in his book What a Fish Knows, which he says he was inspired to write “when I became aware of fascinating scientific discoveries about fishes that revealed rich, complex lives, and I realized how very little of this information was reaching the public consciousness”.

Many scientists now subscribe to such views. Culum Brown, a biologist at MacQuarie University in Australia who has studied fish cognition and behaviour for 25 years, has said, “You should think about fish in the same way you think about a pig or a cow.”

Evidence for fish intelligence is also well established. One remarkable example is the cognitive ability of the frillfin goby, a small fish frequently trapped in rock pools when the tide goes out. Often, the gobies jump from pool to pool, but how do they know where the next pool is and how far to jump? Scientists have researched this question for a number of years, concluding that the gobies are able to make a mental map of the positions of the pools so they know exactly where to jump. So much for the myth that fish have a three-second memory.

Studies have found that fish use toolsrecognize other fish, and can recognize themselves in a mirror (an ability previously thought to be confined to humans and a few other animals such as primates and dolphins.)

Our image of fish as dead-eyed, silent, scaly creatures makes it hard to regard them as intelligent beings with feelings, but the science cannot be ignored. We need to change the way we think about fish.

That means thinking about fish welfare. We give many other animals—dogs, cats, farm animals, terrestrial wildlife—at least some measure of welfare protection under the law or through regulation. Fish get almost none.

Improving their welfare is challenging, but there are steps that consumers, government, and industry can take.

As vegetarians and vegans will argue, the best step is to stop eating fish and switch to a plant-based diet. It’s an ethical choice that would also reduce the consumption that has led to 90 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks being fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.

For those who do eat fish, there are few humane choices. Hooks hurt. Fish suffocate when they are hauled out of the water. Some pioneering fishers have invested in technology to stun fish within seconds of being brought aboard, but such methods are rare in the fishing industry.

Fish farms are notorious for poor fish welfare and environmental problems, but the development of Canada’s first code of practice for farmed salmonids is a sign that fish welfare is starting to be taken seriously.

Such developments may take years to have a significant impact on fish welfare. They need support and investment from government and industry.

In the meantime, it’s best to leave fish off your plate.

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News/Blog

Animal champions make a difference at Because They Matter

Loretta, who spends her days outside on the Downtown Eastside, has been looking after her sister’s dog Beans while she has been ill in the hospital. She wanted to do something nice for her sister when she is reunited with her beloved dog, but she couldn’t afford a gift. Luckily, VHS was offering free pet supplies in Pigeon Park for our Because They Matter event this weekend. Loretta dropped by VHS’s table and picked up a better-fitting harness and collar for Beans.

Loretta is just one of the hundreds of people VHS staff and volunteers connected with at our first-ever Because They Matter fundraising and outreach event.

During the event, staff and volunteers handed out harnesses, leashes, collars, blankets, toys, water bowls, plant-based dog treats, and resources for veterinary assistance to happy animals and grateful guardians who spend their days on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

You can see some of the happy recipients of these care items in the photos below.

Participants also raised more than $10,000 for vital animal protection efforts in the weeks leading up to the event. We are now more than 75% of the way to our goal of $13,000!

We would like to thank the amazing participants, donors, and sponsors who made this event possible, including local businesses:

  • Discover Dogs
  • Good Boy Collective
  • The Cat and Dog Shop
  • The Pet Shop Club
  • The Raw Connoisseurs

If you have not yet had a chance to support this event, you can still donate toward VHS’s vital animal protection efforts below. Thank you for helping to build a kinder world for animals!

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Media Release

Vancouver Humane Society program helps to prevent homelessness for women and pets

VANCOUVER, July 22, 2021 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is partnering with women’s support agencies to break down housing barriers for women with pets through the unique Helping Women and Pets in Crisis program.

“It is difficult finding places that allow pets,” says Mariam, a client of the program whose name has been changed for privacy, “Especially with non-refundable pet deposits which take away the limited income I have per month.” Mariam’s family is familiar with this struggle; her sister has already given up a cat “because she couldn’t afford anywhere that would allow a pet to live with her.”

Currently, the lack of pet-friendly housing has a huge impact on people experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence. About one in ten people experiencing homelessness have pets, and many affirm that they would never enter a shelter if they could not bring their pet with them. Pets and their guardians form strong bonds that aid each other’s mental wellbeing; living with a pet has been proven to have medical, emotional, and mental health benefits.

Likewise, many women experiencing domestic abuse have stayed in an abusive relationship longer than they felt comfortable out of concern for their pets. This is a serious welfare concern for women as well as animals, since abusers will often threaten or harm their victim’s animal as a form of intimidation and control.

An individual with a low income can also face challenges when their pet has a medical crisis. “The vet bills are the toughest, you never know if they’re going to get sick or not. How are you going to pay your other bills when the vet bills are so high?” says Mariam.

When Mariam’s cat got sick, she says, “We spent our rent money to get him medicine in the hospital to prevent him from suffering. I accepted that I would have to go without some basic needs and put off rent for a couple of months to catch up financially.”

The Helping Women and Pets in Crisis program covered part of Mariam’s urgent veterinary costs so that she did not need to shoulder the financial burden alone. “That took away the worry about being able to afford the next couple of months, knowing we won’t have to struggle for a while.”

The program recently received a generous grant of $10,200 from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. It is also funded in part by a $9,000 grant from North Shore Community Foundation and a $30,000 grant from PetSmart Charities® of Canada. “Helping vulnerable pet parents and their pets stay healthy and together is something we are committed to,” said Dani LaGiglia, community grants manager at PetSmart Charities of Canada. “With this funding, we hope more women will not have to make a choice between their safety and that of a beloved pet.”

VHS is hoping to grow this project beyond the grant funds and is seeking compassionate donors to support this work. If you would like to contribute to this valuable program, or if you are a woman in crisis seeking support for yourself and your pet, you can learn more on the Vancouver Humane Society website.

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For further information: Contact Amy Morris: 604-416-2901

RELATED LINKS

https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/helping-women-and-pets-in-crisis/ https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/

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News/Blog

The truth about rodeo

The rodeo industry and its supporters have put forward many arguments to defend rodeo. Keep reading to learn the truth about rodeo and how to counter some of the most common arguments.

1. Animals used in rodeo are at risk of stress and injury.

Defenders of rodeo will often argue that rodeo animals are valuable, so they would not be mistreated or put at risk. This is like saying that race car drivers would not put their valuable cars at risk in motor racing. The fact is that the financial rewards outweigh the risk.

Professional rodeo offers large cash prizes and generates significant revenue for those involved. Rodeos are marketed as “exciting” because they are risky and fast-paced, putting animals in danger of stress and injury. For instance, recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

2. Rodeo animals have no choice.

Rodeo supporters will point out that other sports carry a risk of injury, such as boxing or racecar driving. The difference is that rodeo animals, unlike human athletes, have no choice in the matter.

Is it likely a calf or steer would choose to be roped and thrown to the ground? Would a bull choose to be goaded into an arena of thousands of screaming people with someone on his back and a belt tied around his hindquarters?

3. Rodeo events bear little resemblance to traditional ranch practices.

The rodeo industry markets itself as an important part of western heritage and tradition. In fact, most rodeo events bear little or no resemblance to real ranch practices, historic or modern.

For example, why would a real cowboy ride a bull? Why would a real cowboy want to make a horse buck with a flank strap?

A key issue is that rodeo events are timed, whereas real ranch practices are not. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice for Handling of Beef Cattle requires that animal handlers must use quiet handling techniques. Specifically, they recommend against animals falling during handling, and suggest using handling tools, such as flags, plastic paddles or rattles, to direct animal movement. Timing makes these events faster, more stressful and more dangerous to the animals. Real calf roping on ranches is a far more gentle practice in which calves are roped at slow speeds.

4. Rodeo is “a cruel detour to the slaughterhouse”.

Some rodeo supporters will argue against protecting animals from poor treatment in rodeos because they are going to be slaughtered anyway. The fact that some animals will eventually be slaughtered for food is not a justification for abusing them before they die.

Rodeo has been termed “a cruel detour to the slaughterhouse.” While we slaughter millions of animals every day for food, no one would suggest putting it on show, timing it and awarding a prize to the fastest slaughterhouse worker.

5. Events can replace rodeo with animal-friendly and family-friendly entertainment.

Although rodeo is still treated as family entertainment in many places, it is losing popularity as it continues to cause animal suffering.

Many rodeos are part of fairs or other cultural events. By dropping cruel rodeo events, these fairs can become more animal-friendly and family-friendly. They can also gain the support of the 59% of Canadians who oppose the use of animals in rodeo.

Take action

Learn more on the truth about rodeo and take action to end rodeo cruelty using the buttons below.

Donate to protect animals

Tell the Calgary Stampede to end inhumane rodeo events

Learn more about rodeo cruelty

Latest news

The truth about rodeo

The rodeo industry and its supporters have put forward many arguments to defend rodeo. Keep reading to learn the truth about rodeo and how to counter some of the most common arguments. Take action to end rodeo cruelty now 1. Animals used in rodeo are at risk of stress and injury.Defenders of rodeo will often…

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The Calgary Stampede should drop inhumane rodeo events

Article originally published on Daily Hive. There are few good things to come out of COVID-19 but the cancellation of the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races is one of them. For the second year in a row, the event has been called off because of the pandemic, sparing horses from the annual death trap that has…

READ MORE

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Media Release

Vancouver Humane Society calls for an end to inhumane rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling on the Calgary Stampede to discontinue a number of inhumane rodeo events, which cause animal suffering, stress, and even death for the sake of entertainment. VHS urges the Calgary Stampede to eliminate three particularly concerning events: calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping.

“It is impossible to look at close-up photos of these rodeo events without concluding that the animals are suffering,” said VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett. “The fear in the face of a calf who has been roped at full speed, thrown to the ground, and tied up is obvious and heartbreaking.”

Recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

There is some good news for animals at the Calgary Stampede. The dangerous and fast-paced chuckwagon races—which have been dubbed the “half mile of hell”—were cancelled this year due to safety concerns surrounding the lack of a racing season ahead of the Stampede. The Calgary Stampede also made the recent decision to drop one wagon from the race; it remains to be seen whether this will decrease the risk of injury and death. Animal advocates hope that these measures are only the first step toward a safer event.

This year’s cancellation of the chuckwagon races would offer an excellent opportunity to address ongoing safety concerns that have led to more than 70 horse deaths since 1986. VHS calls on the Calgary Stampede to suspend the races until an independent review by experts, including veterinarians, animal behaviourists, and equine specialists, can determine whether or not the event can be made safe for the animals involved.

Dropping events that compromise the welfare and well-being of animals does not mean the end of the Calgary Stampede. In fact, a more animal-friendly and family-friendly Stampede could continue to be a successful attraction with the added support of the 59 per cent of Canadians who oppose using animals in rodeo. VHS has launched a campaign encouraging the public to call on Stampede organizers to drop these inhumane rodeo events and seek an independent, expert review of the chuckwagon races.

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For further information: Contact Emily Pickett: 604-416-2902

RELATED LINKS
https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/posts/inhumane-rodeo-calgary-stampede/
https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/

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News/Blog

End inhumane rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede

Email the Calgary Stampede

Tell the Calgary Stampede to end inhumane rodeo events now!

UPDATE – July 26, 2021

A horse was euthanized this weekend following a chuckwagon race in Red Deer, Alberta.

This comes after the Calgary Stampede cancelled their 2021 chuckwagon races due to safety concerns surrounding the lack of a practice season during COVID-19.

The chuckwagon races always pose a risk to horses because of the fast pace of the event and the proximity of wagons and horses on the track. There are also concerns about the use thoroughbred horses in chuckwagon racing, which tend to be bred for speed rather than skeletal strength. This puts them at greater risk of serious injury and euthanization.

The horse who was euthanized this weekend was diagnosed with a muscular-skeletal injury after the accident.

The loss was tragic and preventable.

Please call on the Calgary Stampede to extend their suspension of the chuckwagon races until an independent review by animal experts can determine if they can be made safer.

The majority of Canadians are opposed to rodeo; so why does a Canadian event marketing itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” continue to host rodeo events?

59% of Canadians are opposed to using animals in rodeo, and yet the Calgary Stampede continues to host cruel rodeo events year after year that cause animal suffering, stress, and even death. It is clear to most people that twisting a steer’s neck until he falls down or stretching him by the neck and hind legs so he is suspended above the ground is inhumane, but these activities are carried out for the sake of so-called entertainment in the form of steer wrestling and team roping every year.

Watch: The cruel reality of calf roping

The cruel reality of calf roping

This is calf roping, an event held at rodeos including the Calgary Stampede.Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an animal-friendly, family-fr…

Perhaps the most obviously cruel event is calf roping (also known as tie-down roping), where a calf who is just three months old—long before the age she should even be weaned from her mother—is tormented or “goaded” in a chute leading from a holding pen to the rodeo arena, so that she bursts out at a high speed as soon as the gate opens. Then, as she runs into a ring at around 27 miles per hour, the confused calf is roped around the neck by a rider and jerked to a sudden stop. The rider will then jump to the ground and quickly tie three of the calf’s legs together as she struggles to break free.

Animals used for calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping can and have sustained injuries during these events that cost them their lives.

Photos of the events make it clear that these animals also experience pain and stress while being roped and roughly handled. Recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

Another major event at the Calgary Stampede is the chuckwagon races, which has been dubbed the “half mile of hell” by organizers and participants. The races involve several teams of horses pulling wagons in a figure eight course and racing down a track at high speed to the finish line. This dangerous event has caused more than 70 horse deaths since 1986—mainly due to crash injuries and heart attacks brought on by stress. Though the event has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, organizers have announced a plan to resume the event in 2022.

Watch: The Chuckwagon races, the Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

The Chuckwagon races: The Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

These are the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races, which have caused over 70 horse deaths since 1986. Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an ani…

What has been done to stop these events?

Thanks to the hard work of Vancouver Humane Society’s supporters and other animal rights advocates, some progress has been made in past years in an attempt to reduce animal injuries at the Calgary Stampede. The number of wagons in the chuckwagon races was reduced from four to three following the deaths of six horses in 2019; it remains to be seen whether this measure alone will make the “half mile of hell” any safer for horses.

Up to this point, progress toward making the Stampede more animal-friendly and family-friendly has been slow and hard-won. A serious change by the Calgary Stampede is long overdue to make this fair one that truly represents the values of Canadians.

What’s next?

The Vancouver Humane Society is calling on Calgary Stampede Interim CEO Dana Peers to remove three of the fair’s most inhumane rodeo events: calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping. The cancellation of the 2021 chuckwagon races also offers an opportunity to employ an independent review by experts (i.e. veterinarians, animal behaviourists, equine specialists) to determine whether or not this event can be made safer in future years. If the Calgary Stampede wishes to be the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, it must stop causing animal suffering and leave these events where they belong: in the past.

Take action to end inhumane rodeo events!