News/Blog Uncategorized

Three horses die in Stampede chuckwagon race

VHS issued the following news release on July 12:


Death of three horses at Calgary Stampede
Vancouver Humane Society calls for suspension of chuckwagon races

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling for the suspension of the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races following the death of three horses in this evening’s race.

“Clearly, the Stampede’s much publicized safety improvements have failed to make the race any safer,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.  “Horses continue to die needlessly. This has to stop.”

Fricker said the Stampede should suspend the races immediately and conduct a full safety review of the event using independent expertise.

“The Stampede has run out of excuses,” said Fricker.  “Now is the time to take real action to stop these horses from dying.”

More than 50 horses have died in the chuckwagon event since 1986.


News/Blog Uncategorized

VHS launches ad condemning calf-roping

VHS is publishing a thought-provoking ad in a Calgary newspaper condemning rodeo calf-roping.  The ad, appearing in Fast Forward Weekly on Thursday, July 5, highlights the young age of calves used in the event by juxtaposing a photo of a calf and a human baby, underlined by the words: “Just 3 months old – Would you abuse a baby to entertain a crowd?”

The ad can be seen here.

CTV coverage.

News/Blog Uncategorized

Mayor Watts to Mayor Nenshi: Ban calf-roping


              This has to stop


The popular mayor of Surrey, B.C., Dianne Watts, has written a letter to Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, urging him to advocate for a ban on calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede.

Mayor Watts supported the decision by Surrey’s Cloverdale Rodeo to drop calf-roping and several other rodeo events in 2007.   In her letter, she tells Mayor Nenshi that eliminating calf-roping at the Stampede “would improve animal welfare and serve as an example to the Rodeo world.”

Mayor Nenshi is a member of the Calgary Stampede’s board of directors.  VHS is asking the public to email him and ask that he speak out against calf-roping.


News/Blog Uncategorized

Tormenting animals to make them buck

The rodeo industry likes to say that bucking bulls and horses only work a few seconds a year and otherwise lead pampered lives.  They also like to talk about the animals being “born to buck.”

But if you watch this video you’ll see that bucking bulls are tormented at a young age to “train” them to buck.   A metal weight (called a dummy) is placed on their backs and is only released when they buck their hardest.  The animals are clearly distressed and want the weight off their backs.  What animal wouldn’t?   Can you imagine doing this to dogs?  It’s only because we are conditioned to seeing livestock treated badly that there is no public outcry against such practices.  Yet cattle and horses, as prey animals, are especially likely to suffer fear and stress from such treatment.  And they are subjected to this distress for the trivial purpose of amusing humans (and to make money for a few of them).

It’s true that bucking bulls and horses are deliberately bred to have a genetic predisposition to buck.  But even with such a predisposition, it’s still necessary to torment them with “dummies.”   And even that’s not enough to ensure they buck for the crowds – there’s also the flank strap, which is tied around the animal’s hindquarters to cause further stress.  It’s only released when the animal stops bucking.

The whole bucking stock industry is designed to make animals behave unnaturally.  Is it not perverse that this industry, including the Calgary Stampede, strives to breed horses that no one can ride?  It’s the exact opposite of what real cowboys have historically sought to achieve.   That’s because rodeo has little to do with the genuine traditions of real ranching.  It is a circus and, like all circuses, it exists to exploit animals for the sake of entertainment.

And what happens to the animals that are not good enough for this circus? As we now know, there’s a good chance they’ll end up in the slaughterhouse.

More information on the Calgary Stampede.

News/Blog Uncategorized

Wayne Pacelle of HSUS in Vancouver

Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, will be in Vancouver on Sunday, June 17 to sign his new book and discuss animal welfare issues. VHS is co-hosting the event with Humane Society International Canada.


WHO: Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States

WHAT: Discussion, Q&A and book signing

WHERE: Black Bond Books at Book Warehouse, 632 West Broadway, Vancouver

WHEN: Sunday, June 17; 12:00 – 2:00 PM       

Pacelle’s bestselling book The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them  has been called revolutionary, uplifting and inspiring. The book takes readers on a journey from America’s great open spaces to its crowded factory farms to the ice floes of Canada where seals are slaughtered. Pacelle illuminates the stark dichotomy we face in an age when animals are more beloved yet more abused than during any period in history.

Pacelle will discuss the themes in the book and issues of local, national and international impact at the Vancouver event.

News/Blog Uncategorized

Calgary Stampede sends young horses to slaughter

Bucking horses are a major part of rodeo ‘entertainment’

An article in an Alberta magazine has revealed that the Calgary Stampede sends young, healthy horses to slaughter if they can’t make the grade as bucking horses for the Stampede rodeo. (CTV News is running a report on the revelations.)

The current issue of Alberta Views carries a story by journalist Curtis Gillespie about animal care at the Stampede.  In it, Gillespie asks staff at the Calgary Stampede ranch (which breeds and raises bucking horses for the rodeo) about the fate of bucking horses not good enough to perform at the Stampede. Here is a passage from the article:

I asked what happens to those horses that simply aren’t suited to bucking, that aren’t naturals? “We usually just keep ’em around,” Marrington said. “A lot of mares go into the breeding program, even if they can’t buck, because we know they’re genetically good. We do cull, no question about that. But the fact is, you can get some young horses, for whatever reason, that fight the chute, or are just bad, and they could hurt cowboys with no ability, and they’ll just run over you. And they’re disposed of, and that’s all I’m going to tell you. They’re out of the system, out of the inventory. It’s inventory in, inventory out.”

The next day, I asked ranch manager Raymond Goodman how many times, on average, a young horse is dummied before a decision is made to remove it from the bucking program.

“Usually three or four times,” he said.

“And if they’re mares, they go back into the breeding program?”

He nodded.

“And what about geldings and studs?” I asked. “They’re culled?”


“And they go where? Fort MacLeod?”

“Yup, Fort MacLeod.”

Fort McLeod is the site of a slaughterhouse run by Bouvry Exports Ltd., where many horses are sent for slaughter.  The plant was the subject of  an investigation by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition in 2010, which found evidence that horses were being killed inhumanely.  The CHDC revealed video footage showing horses at the slaughterhouse being shot and then hoisted away by their legs while still fully conscious.

Please let the Stampede’s chief executive, Vern Kimball, know what you think about this.

News/Blog Uncategorized

Nelson needs a home!

Nelson is a friendly tabby who would do best in a one-cat home

UPDATE: Nelson has been adopted!  Thanks to everyone who spread the word about Nelson’s situation.


Nelson is looking for a forever home!

This sweet little tabby boy is typical of the animals that VHS helps.  He was found in a back yard, starving, and his ears were full of mites.  Although he’s estimated to be around 5 years old, he wasn’t neutered!  No wonder he kept getting into trouble with the neighborhood cats.

He’s now being fostered and doing very well. Thanks to VHS supporters, he’s neutered, vaccinated and has been treated for his ear mites. He’s had an FIV test which, thankfully, was negative. He’s litter-trained, playful and loves to give head butts! He likes having his head scratched, and doesn’t mind dogs.

Can you give him a home?  Please email if Nelson is the cat for you.




News/Blog Uncategorized

100 years of cruelty is nothing to celebrate

In a few weeks time, on July 6, animals will once again be suffering at the hands of the Calgary Stampede.  And once again, we will be calling on all civilized, compassionate Canadians to oppose this spectacle of animal abuse.

Some people wonder why the Vancouver Humane Society, a small animal charity on the West Coast, picks on the Calgary Stampede, a so-called national icon and self-described “greatest outdoor show on earth.”

The simple answer is this:  The Stampede subjects animals to fear, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment and that’s immoral.

To be clear, VHS only objects to the Stampede rodeo.  We have no issue with the other activities that make up the bulk of the Stampede.  If people want to dress up as cowboys and party, that’s fine with us. We just want to stop animals from suffering.

The Stampede will say that rodeo animals don’t suffer.  Can they really believe that a three-month-old calf doesn’t feel fear when it is goaded out of a chute and chased into the arena? Can they really believe that the calf doesn’t feel pain when, at 27 miles per hour, it is roped to a jarring halt, then picked up and thrown to the ground?  Imagine this being done to your dog.

Some people who defend rodeo say, well, the pain is only inflicted for a short time, so what’s the big deal.  Okay, imagine that a reality television program featured kittens or puppies receiving a mild electric shock for just a few seconds.  No one would stand for it.  There would be a public outcry.  Why? Because the idea of subjecting animals to abuse for the sake of entertainment would be considered barbaric, unconscionable and unacceptable. Yet we accept it in rodeo, where crowds of people actually applaud as they watch animals experience pain.

Oh, but rodeo is different.  It’s about tradition and agricultural heritage and what happens on the ranch.  Really?  The truth is that real working cowboys never rode bulls, wrestled steers or raced chuckwagons.  And the calf-roping event is a cruel travesty of the range practice.  “That’s not the way it’s done on the ranch. On the ranch it’s done quietly and calmly, not like at the rodeo,” says renowned animal behaviourist, Temple Grandin.

Even if rodeo events were a genuine part of Canadian heritage, would that justify cruelty to animals?  In London, one of the last bear-baiting pits, situated a few paces from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, was closed down in 1642.  While the Globe has been rebuilt, nothing remains of the bear pit.  There are some parts of our heritage we should retain and be proud of and there are others we should consign to the dustbin of history.  That’s where traditions of animal cruelty belong.

The Stampede is marking its 100th anniversary.  A century of unnecessary animal suffering.  If you believe in a future without such suffering, please speak out against rodeo.  If you believe in a civilized compassionate Canada, please join our campaign.  We’re going to take a stand against animal cruelty at the Calgary Stampede.  Please stand with us.

Watch this space.

More info on the Calgary Stampede rodeo.








Clean, clipped and happy!

Chopper is one happy, good-looking dog after some help from a very caring person

(Watch Global TV’s story on Chopper here.)


It’s not something that VHS would normally do, but when we were approached by a Good Samaritan asking us to help out with a dog who needed grooming, we made an exception.

The dog in question is Chopper, who belongs to Bill, a man down on his luck and without the resources to pay for a long overdue grooming for Chopper. Bill can be seen most days sitting on the sidewalk in front of Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, with a cupful of loose change from a few generous passersby. He and Chopper are a popular fixture at the station, known to local businesses and watched over by friendly police.

Bill and Chopper

The caring person who contacted VHS had engaged Bill in conversation and, with his agreement, set in motion a plan that eventually involved the Aussie Pet Mobile grooming service, the Vancouver Police Department, Global Television and VHS. In addition to her co-ordinating efforts, she also also brought Bill food (including his favourite: mashed potatoes). VHS agreed to cover the cost of the grooming. On May 8, everything came together and Global TV’s Mike McCardell covered Chopper’s big day. After nearly two hours of grooming, Chopper emerged a new dog, looking and obviously feeling great. Bill was over the moon to see his pal clean, clipped and happy.

VHS usually restricts funding help to animals in emergency medical need, but we were so impressed that one individual (who wishes to remain anonymous) would take the time to befriend and help someone like Bill and his best friend Chopper, that we decided we had to help.
As it turns out, the generous people at Aussie Pet Mobile have decided to make a substantial donation to VHS, so everyone has come out ahead!

News/Blog Uncategorized

A cautionary tale

Miley was very ill with parvovirus

Miley, a ten-week-old puppy, was sold to a family at the Abbotsford Flea Market by a breeder who had lied about her health. The family was told Miley had been vaccinated and was in perfect condition, but when the family took her home she fell gravely ill only a few days later.

Miley was rushed to the vet, where she was diagnosed with parvovirus, a sickness that can be fatal to puppies. The family did not have the means to pay for the costly treatment so they called VHS for help. We are happy to report that Miley sailed through her treatment without a problem and is now in perfect health. She is now a happy and active little puppy with a loving forever home.


VHS does its best to help sick and injured animals though our McVitie Fund, which is used to help with emergency veterinary care, but the demand for help always exceeds our resources. (Donations to the McVitie Fund are currently being doubled in value, thanks to a challenge grant.)

While Miley’s story had a happy ending, it illustrates the dangers of buying dogs, especially when there are homeless dogs languishing in shelters. For information on our ‘Adopt, don’t buy’ campaign click here.