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Media Release

New billboards urge Calgarians to rethink rodeo and chuckwagon races

A billboard in Calgary questions government funding for rodeo events after more than half of Calgarians say they oppose it. Source: Vancouver Humane Society.

VANCOUVER, May 14, 2024 – In the weeks leading up to the Calgary Stampede, new billboards popping up across the city are urging Calgarians to skip the rodeo and chuckwagon races.

These images remind observers that rodeo is “No fun for the animals” and that “Rodeo animals aren’t performing. They’re suffering.” They also highlight a statistic from a Research Co. poll conducted earlier this year, which found that “More than half of Calgarians oppose government funding for rodeo events” – a shocking statistic considering the Calgary Stampede receives about six million in taxpayer dollars from the provincial government each year, as well as support from the municipality.

“The billboards encourage people to rethink supporting events that cause animal suffering,” said Vancouver Humane Society’s (VHS) Chantelle Archambault. “You can see the fear in the eyes of calves being roped at high speeds and steers having their necks twisted back until they fall to the ground. It’s not entertainment; it’s cruelty.”

Archambault noted that public opinion on rodeo is already changing. This year’s Research Co. poll found that more than half of Albertans disagreed with the use of animals in steer wrestling (54%), calf roping (51%), and bronc riding (51%). When presented with photos of calf roping, 60% of Albertans and 62% of Calgarians said they would “probably” or “definitely” not watch the event.

Near-annual animal deaths at the Stampede may be one reason for the events’ declining popularity. 105 animals have died at the Stampede since the VHS began tracking fatalities in 1986, including 75 horses used in the chuckwagon races. A growing body of research shows animals used in events such as calf roping experience acute stress and are at risk of serious injury.

An end to inhumane animal events doesn’t mean an end to the Stampede. A 2022 poll from Research Co. found that the removal of the rodeo and chuckwagon events from the Calgary Stampede program would have virtually no impact on attendance rates and would attract new crowds. The VHS hopes to see the Calgary Stampede continue to evolve into an event that celebrates the city’s culture and represents events in Canada on the world stage without the rodeo and chuckwagon races.

The billboards are being run as part of the Rodeo Truth project, a collaboration between the VHS and concerned Calgarians.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

Related links:

Related media: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1CmkJS–Ow1QxyjZHEcZi-XkLIq3Oznqy?usp=sharing

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Media Release

One-day pizza deal from Panago helps animals year-round

VANCOUVER, November 24, 2023 – British Columbians can enjoy great deals on plant-based pizzas while helping animals this Tuesday, November 28th. In support of Giving Tuesday, Panago Pizza locations across B.C. will be offering large plant-based pizzas for just $15 with the code PLANT15. $1 from each purchase will be donated to the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) and the Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary.

Panago staff treated the Happy Herd team to plant-based pizzas last Giving Tuesday. Photo: The Happy Herd.

Each dollar donated will support vital work for animals at both local animal organizations.

“We are so grateful for Panago’s continued partnership and the generosity of each person who supports Giving Tuesday,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault. “Your support saves the lives of animals and helps to make our community a kinder and more humane place for all species throughout the year.”

Funds support a loving forever home for more than 65 animals at the Happy Herd. This Aldergrove-based sanctuary provides a safe haven for animals rescued from the farming industry, like Noodles, who was taken in after being rejected by his mother. Born with a neurological condition that affects his coordination and appetite, Noodles is now thriving among his animal friends of all kinds at the Happy Herd.

Noodles, an Icelandic sheep with a neurological condition, found a loving forever home at The Happy Herd. He has made many friends in his new home, like Desi the cow, pictured. Photos: The Happy Herd.

Donated dollars also support vital program and advocacy work at the Vancouver Humane Society, including covering life-saving veterinary care for beloved pets like Tommy, and ensuring they can return to their caring guardians rather than being surrendered to the overburdened shelter and rescue system.

Tommy received life-saving treatment including round-the-clock IV fluids thanks to the VHS’s McVitie Fund. Photo: Vancouver Humane Society.

Panago offers 5 plant-based pizza recipes and continues to grow their plant-based choices as part of their long-term commitment to sustainability. Visit panago.com/our-values to learn more.

Members of the community can also donate directly to the VHS and The Happy Herd at vancouverhumane.ca. Panago is matching donations made to the Giving Tuesday campaign up to $2,000, and other generous local partners are matching an additional $6,000 in donations! This means that each gift makes double the difference to help animals.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

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Media Release

New footage showcasing animal welfare issues at several BC rodeos prompts cruelty complaint and calls for change

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VANCOUVER, November 2, 2023 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling for a cruelty investigation after newly-released footage taken at several rodeos across British Columbia revealed stressed animals being harshly handled, agitated into fleeing and bucking, and put at risk of serious injury. 

The VHS says the footage, taken from recent rodeos in Princeton, Chilliwack, Armstrong and Merritt, illustrates systemic animal welfare issues throughout the rodeo industry.  

“Numerous clips show animals being hit and kicked, thrashing in the chutes, and having their tails and ears harshly pulled and twisted,” said VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett. “This type of cruel handling is in addition to the already stressful nature of rodeo events.” 

The VHS also points to a number of clips in which animals are put at risk of serious injury, including animals running into or falling over fences; calves being choked and dragged by the rope around their neck; and frightened animals resisting handlers. 

“It’s hard to watch the footage, but it’s important that it be seen,” added Pickett. “This is the reality of what these animals endure in roping, bucking and wrestling events, all for the sake of public entertainment. It’s unacceptable.” 

The VHS notes that standard rodeo practices cause fear, stress, pain, and discomfort to animals. In rodeo events, fleeing calves are roped around the neck, jerked to a sudden stop, and thrown to the ground before having their legs tied; horses and bulls have a flank strap tightened around their sensitive underbelly and spurs raked along their sides to agitate them into bucking; riders jump on steers and twist their necks until they fall to the ground; and steers are roped around the neck and hind leg and stretched from each end until they are brought to the ground.

Recent public polling shows that a growing majority of residents in BC (65%) and across Canada (67%) are also opposed to the use of animals in rodeo events.  

The VHS has submitted a cruelty report to the BC SPCA outlining the incidents and issues captured in the footage. Concerned Canadians are also being encouraged to call on their local Mayor and Council for a bylaw that prohibits inhumane rodeo events and to ask BC’s Minister of Tourism to no longer provide public funding to events that include rodeos. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Emily Pickett: 604-416-2903, emily@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

Related links:

https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/posts/what-happened-at-bc-rodeos-this-year/

https://youtu.be/xeq4xMe5knk

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Media Release

Another horse has died at Hastings Racecourse 

VANCOUVER, September 27, 2023 – Another horse has lost her life at Hastings Racecourse, the B.C. Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) has confirmed. 

On September 15, two-year-old Shadesofriogrande escaped from the stable area and died after running into a wooden wall. According to the GPEB, a veterinarian determined she had suffered blunt force trauma and blood loss due to the crash. 

“Shadesofriogrande’s tragic death is another in a series of devastating losses at Hastings Racecourse this year,” said Chantelle Archambault, the Communications Director at the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS). “How many more incidents will it take for organizers to address the unnecessary risks posed to these sensitive and intelligent animals, who are forced into stressful and dangerous events week after week?” 

The incident comes after four horses lost their lives in just three weeks at Hastings Racecourse this summer: One Fifty One on July 16, Lent Me Twenty on July 22, Memorandum on July 30, and Eddie Who on August 6. 

The VHS responded that these incidents reiterate the inherent risks of using animals for entertainment. 

The VHS reached out to the GPEB September 18 inquiring about the death after receiving an anonymous tip, and received a written response yesterday, September 26. 

“The GPEB’s delayed response is concerning,” Archambault added. “The public should be asking themselves what is being done to keep these horses safe; and if they can’t be kept safe, how transparent will organizers and regulators be about the tragic consequences?” 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

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Media Release

Vancouver Humane Society raises concerns about Valley West Stampede rodeo

VANCOUVER, September 1, 2023 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is again raising concerns about the Valley West Stampede rodeo, which returns to Langley Township this long weekend despite opposition.

Polling shows 65% of B.C. residents are opposed to the use of animals in rodeo. Overall, 67% of Canadians are opposed to the practice, up six percentage points since a similar poll conducted in April 2022.

Footage from last year’s inaugural rodeo showed frightened and stressed animals being deliberately agitated into fleeing and bucking. In the videos, a bull has his tail pulled and is struck near the face prior to a bucking event; a sheep is pushed over onto their back; and horses thrash in chutes, appearing panicked.

“This event relies on causing animals to feel fear and stress to make them ‘perform’,” said VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett. “Inhumane rodeo events have no place in a community that values compassion and kindness.”

Despite most British Columbians opposing rodeo, the VHS pointed out that $33,700 in provincial taxpayer dollars were given to the Valley West Stampede – a portion of almost $800,000 in funding allocated to events with rodeos across B.C. Earlier this year, the VHS and nearly 2,500 concerned residents called on B.C.’s Minister of Tourism to not provide funding to events that include rodeos, but those requests were ignored.

The VHS continues to call for an end to inhumane rodeo events, including roping, wrestling, bucking and mutton busting, and urges organizers and decision-makers to prioritize alternative events that can bring communities together without putting animals at unnecessary risk of injury and death.

Concerned Langley Township residents can call on the Mayor and Council to follow the lead of other municipalities that have passed bylaws prohibiting inhumane rodeo events, including City of Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, and most recently, Port Moody, on the VHS website.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society 

For more information, contact Emily Pickett: 604-416-2903, emily@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

Categories
Media Release

Vancouver Humane Society raises welfare concerns after three horse deaths at Hastings Racecourse 

VANCOUVER, August 10, 2023 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is once again speaking out against the use of animals in entertainment after recent reports that three horses lost their lives and another was injured in two weeks at Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse.

A five-year-old horse named One Fifty One was euthanized due to an unrecoverable injury sustained during a race on July 16. On July 22, a three-year-old horse named Lent Me Twenty fell backward prior to a race at The Cup and died. A four-year-old horse named Memorandum was euthanized after sustaining an injury in a July 30 race. 

“It’s heartbreaking, but unfortunately not surprising, to hear of horses losing their lives at these events,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault. “Horses’ lives are put at risk each time they step on the track.”  

The VHS pointed out that the stressful, high-speed nature of the races poses inherent welfare concerns. Experts have noted that thoroughbreds are often overbred for speed rather than skeletal strength, making their legs susceptible to injury. The events also use painful tools like bits and whips to control horses’ movements.  

“Unlike human athletes, horses are not given the choice whether to participate and their short careers are marked by fear,” said Archambault.   

Research shows that horses who begin high-intensity activities like racing at a young age have been found to have high rates of injury, and to decline and retire quickly. One study found that during the training and racing of two-year-old racehorses, 85% suffered at least one incident of injury or disease. Another found that of the horses that began racing at two or three years of age, only 46% were still racing two years later.   

When they are retired, typically around four to six years old, horses who can no longer generate a profit are at risk of being sent to auction. There, unwanted horses are sold to the highest bidder including horsemeat buyers.  

Archambault noted, “When we use animals for entertainment, we’re seeing them as objects rather than the sentient beings that they are. These incidents show once again that the safety and well-being of horses is not adequately taken into account.”  

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca 

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Media Release

The VHS calls for an end to Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races after horse death

Vancouver, July 15, 2023 — The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is again calling on Calgary Stampede organizers and Calgary City Council to remove the chuckwagon races from the Stampede program, following the death of a horse during Friday’s event.

The horse sustained an injury during the seventh heat of the chuckwagon races and was subsequently euthanized. 75 horses used in the chuckwagon races have died at the Calgary Stampede since the VHS started tracking fatalities in 1986, including two since the Stampede recently changed the structure of the event from four wagons per heat to three.

“The reality is that despite efforts over the years to make the event safer, horses continue to die nearly every year in the chuckwagon races,” said VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett. “The nature of this event means that any race could quickly turn fatal.”

In fact, in the last two decades, there have only been three years in which the races did not result in horse fatalities: 2003, 2004, and 2016.

The VHS pointed to the structure of the chuckwagon races, which are dubbed ‘the half-mile of hell’, as inherently dangerous. The high speed of the race and the close proximity of the horses and wagons to each other presents a risk of creating a chain reaction if one horse falls or is injured. Furthermore, experts have raised concerns about the use of thoroughbred horses as they are often overbred for speed rather than skeletal strength, making their legs susceptible to injury.

The VHS is also calling for an end to calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling and bucking events at the Calgary Stampede, noting that the events rely on the use of fear, stress and discomfort to make the animals flee and buck for sake of public entertainment.

“Public polling shows that a majority of Canadians oppose the use of animals in rodeos,” said Pickett.

Another public poll of Calgarians conducted during last year’s Stampede found removal of the rodeo and chuckwagon events from the Stampede program would have virtually no impact on attendance rates and would bring in new crowds.

“It’s time for the Calgary Stampede to move away from these dangerous and inhumane events and to instead focus on the many alternative events and activities that already attract hundreds of thousands of attendees to the Stampede every year,” added Pickett.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society  

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

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Media Release

Incident at this past weekend’s Princeton Rodeo illustrates animal welfare concerns

Horse leaps over barrier and lands dangerously at Princeton Rodeo

A video from a rodeo in Princeton shows a horse jumping over the arena barrier and landing dangerously on their head.

VANCOUVER, June 15, 2023 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is raising concerns around an incident that occurred at a rodeo held in Princeton over the weekend. A video released by the VHS shows a horse jumping over the arena barrier and landing dangerously on their head. The incident took place during a bucking event. 

The video has also been shared with the BC SPCA. 

“Rodeo events, like bareback riding, are accidents waiting to happen and that’s exactly what occurred here”, says VHS Campaign Director, Emily Pickett. “These events rely on the use of fear, discomfort and stress to make animals flee and buck. This puts them at unnecessary risk of injury and death for the sake of public entertainment.” 

The VHS cites public polling that shows a majority of British Columbians are opposed to the use of animals in rodeos. The organization and concerned B.C. residents have been advocating for municipal bylaws that prohibit inhumane rodeo events and practices. The City of Vancouver and District of North Vancouver already have bylaws in place and just last month the City of Port Moody also followed suit, unanimously passing a similar bylaw.  

The VHS says this recent incident at the Princeton Rodeo, along with concerning video footage taken at rodeo events in Chilliwack and Langley last year, reiterates the importance of bylaws that protect animals from inhumane treatment and suffering in rodeos. 

“There are no shortage of alternative events and activities that can bring communities together to celebrate, without putting animals in harm’s way,” says Pickett. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society  

For more information, contact Emily Pickett: 604-416-2903, emily@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

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Media Release

Eating more plants could save you 14% on groceries, says new report 

VANCOUVER, May 30, 2023 – Switching to a plant-based diet could save you around 14% at the till, says a report released today by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS). The report details how eating more plant-based foods can help individuals in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland to cut down on grocery costs, reduce emissions, and save animal lives. 

@vancouverhumane Eating a plant-based diet could save you $600 a year on groceries! #PlantBased #Vegan #VeganForTheAnimals #Budgeting ♬ original sound – Vancouver Humane Society

These findings follow the release of a poll commissioned by the VHS, which found that 92% of Lower Mainland residents are concerned about how the rising cost of living is impacting their finances and 66% would be open to eating more plant-based foods to save money. Food costs have skyrocketed over the past year, increasing by more than double the overall annual inflation rate at about 10%, and are expected to rise by 5 to 7% this year according to Canada’s Food Price Report 2023

Image: Vancouver Humane Society, A Transition Toward Plant-Based Diets: A study amongst BC residents in the Lower Mainland

By making the swap to plant-based alternatives, the average person could save $50 each month on groceries. That’s about 14% of the typical monthly cost of groceries for a person living in Vancouver, which was $355.28 last year. The savings are greatest when swapping out animal products for whole foods – for instance, switching from chicken to tofu rather than to manufactured meat alternatives. 

Individuals who eat a lot of beef and seafood could see even higher savings. Swapping 21 servings of beef for lentils each month could save $60, while swapping 21 servings of seafood for mushrooms could save a whopping $64 monthly.

Image: Vancouver Humane Society, A Transition Toward Plant-Based Diets: A study amongst BC residents in the Lower Mainland

In addition to cost savings, eating a plant-based diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 816kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) annually – about half of what it takes to power an entire home for a year. 

Image: Vancouver Humane Society, A Transition Toward Plant-Based Diets: A study amongst BC residents in the Lower Mainland

A switch away from beef carries the greatest environmental impact – in the typical Lower Mainland diet, swapping beef for lentils reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly twice as much as swapping out all other animal products combined. 

In 2020, a similar report from the VHS entitled “Increasing Plant-Based Purchasing at the Municipal Level” outlined the benefits of shifting toward more plant-based foods purchased by the City of Vancouver, including through catering, city-run concession stands, and municipal food funding. That report found by replacing 20% of animal-based food products with plant-based alternatives, the City of Vancouver could save up to $99,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500 tonnes. In 2021, the Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion to explore policy recommendations outlined in the report. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca   

Related links: 

https://plantuniversity.ca/individual/plant-based-poll/

https://plantuniversity.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Final-VHS-Report-Plant-Based-Diets-.pdf

Related media:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1iekaOJi-k5iIl7o70uUEafciZWFPlyYf?usp=sharing

https://www.tiktok.com/@vancouverhumane/video/7238681795196095750

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Media Release

Animal advocates celebrate rodeo ban in Port Moody

VANCOUVER, May 25, 2023 – Port Moody’s Council has unanimously voted in favour of prohibiting inhumane rodeo events, making the Lower Mainland city the third municipality in British Columbia to implement such a ban.  

The motion to “prohibit inhumane rodeo events and practices including bucking, roping, wrestling, and mutton busting within city limits” was introduced by Councillor Kyla Knowles and was passed by Council at the May 9 meeting.  

Councillor Knowles cited concerns that rodeo poses a risk of injury to animals and that practices are inherently cruel. She noted that at least 13 residents have written to municipal decision-makers calling for a ban in the community. 

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) congratulated the City of Port Moody for this promising step forward for animals and the community.  

“We’re very grateful for the advocacy of local residents and pleased see the City of Port Moody taking the initiative to proactively ban inhumane rodeo events, which cause unnecessary harm and stress to animals,” said VHS’s Campaign Director, Emily Pickett. 

“There is no shortage of other types of events that can bring the community together without putting animals at risk of injury and suffering. We hope other communities will follow Port Moody’s lead by moving away from inhumane rodeo events.” 

Last year, a new rodeo was established in Langley Township, prompting the VHS to advocate for proactive bylaws prohibiting the practice in B.C. communities. 

Port Moody joins the City of Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver in banning rodeo events. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society  

For more information, contact Emily Pickett: 604-416-2903, emily@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca