The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is again raising concerns of animal suffering at the annual Chilliwack Rodeo.
Footage from this year’s Chilliwack Rodeo shows animals being subjected to fear, discomfort and stress for sake of public entertainment.
This new footage, along with similar concerning footage from last year’s Chilliwack rodeo, reinforces that animal suffering is inherent to many rodeo events, including roping, bucking, wrestling and mutton busting (kids riding sheep).
The VHS is asking residents and tourists to call on Chilliwack City Council to pass a bylaw to prohibit inhumane rodeo events.
Footage from the recent Chilliwack rodeo shows stressed and agitated animals being roughly handled, thrashing around in the chutes, and being put at risk of injury and death. Obvious signs of stress are seen throughout the footage, including excessive salivation, defecation and resisting handlers.
The VHS also documented similar animal welfare issues during last year’s Chilliwack rodeo, reinforcing the reality that many rodeo events rely on the use of fear, discomfort and stress through rough handling and the use of aversive tools (e.g. flank straps and spurs) to make animals flee and buck in response.
Watch the footage:
Calling for removal of inhumane rodeo events
The VHS continues to urge Chilliwack Fair organizers and local decision-makers to remove inhumane rodeo events, including roping, wrestling, bucking and mutton busting from the fair’s program.
Take the steps below to support this call to action in Chilliwack and beyond.
This weekend’s Chilliwack Fair will feature controversial rodeo events including roping, wrestling, bucking and mutton busting (children riding sheep).
Last year, the VHS documented numerous animal welfare issues during the Chilliwack Rodeo, including animals being roughly handled; stressed animals thrashing in the chutes in attempts to escape; and animals being put at risk of injury for the sake of public entertainment.
This year’s Calgary Stampede once again ended in tragedy with the death of a horse in Friday’s chuckwagon event. The fatal incident brings the total number of animal deaths at the Calgary Stampede to 105, including 75 chuckwagon horses, since the VHS began tracking fatalities in 1986.
In addition to Friday’s devastating incident, the VHS documented rough handling and signs of stress in animals throughout the rodeo events. Watch and share the videos below to help raise awareness of the routine suffering that animals experience during rodeo events.
The above video outlines the many animal welfare concerns that arose at this year’s Calgary Stampede, including the tragic death of a horse used in the chuckwagon races.
Much work is needed to change public sentiment on the suffering of animals in rodeos. When the above video was shared on TikTok, several rodeo supporters commented that they saw “nothing wrong” with the handling of the animals. Hours later, the video was removed from the platform for violating their policy on animal abuse. This inhumane treatment is not simply an unfortunate accident in the rodeo industry—it is considered acceptable and expected as an inherent part of the events.
Please share these videos to help others see how animals suffer in rodeos and support a wider movement away from supporting inhumane animal events.
The Calgary Stampede’s rodeo and chuckwagon races have a deadly history, with more than 100 animal deathssince the VHS started tracking incidents in 1986.
Last year, a horse was euthanized following a traumatic injury during the chuckwagon races; a horse in a bucking event was repeatedly struck in the face when the animal was reluctant to leave the chute; and a steer appeared injured during a wrestling event, when the steer’s neck was twisted by the competitor until the animal fell to the ground. He landed awkwardly on his hind leg and was seen limping away moments later.
Animal welfare concerns
Rodeo events like bucking, roping, wrestling, and mutton busting are inherently inhumane. They rely on the use of fear, stress, and discomfort (e.g. spurs, flank straps, rough handling) to make animals perform and put them at unnecessary risk of injury and death for sake of public entertainment.
Animals demonstrate visible signs of stress during rodeo events, including when their eyes roll back to show more of the white of their eyes, excessive salivation, and urination and defecation. Research demonstrates that calves experience acute stress and negative emotional states when chased and roped.
These events are fundamentally at odds with how we should be handling and treating animals.In fact, they contradict industry requirements and best practices for the handling of farmed animals, which state that quiet handling techniques must be used and that abusive handling is unacceptable. If these same practices were used on farms, they would not be allowed.
Growing public opposition
Public polling shows that a majority of Canadians are opposed to the use of animals in rodeo. Another poll indicates that removal of the rodeo and chuckwagon events from the Calgary Stampede program would have virtually no impact on attendance rates and would bring in new crowds. There are many other activities and events at the Calgary Stampede that can be enjoyed without putting animals in harm’s way.
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.
A recent motion to prohibit inhumane rodeo events within city limits was unanimously passed by Port Moody City Council!
The sponsor of the motion, Councillor Kyla Knowles, cited evidence of animal suffering, risk of injury, and public calls for action. She noted that “the routine rough handling of animals in rodeo events completely contradicts industry requirements and best practices for the handling of farmed animals.”
Why a proactive ban?
While many rodeos have been cancelled in the past decade due to public controversy and animal welfare concerns, recent activity from rodeo organizers has emphasized the need for proactive protections for animals.
Last year, a new rodeo was established in Langley Township, which has no bylaws in place prohibiting inhumane rodeo practices. The event prompted advocacy for protective bylaws across B.C.—both in communities where rodeos occur and those where rodeo activities are not yet held.
This bylaw helps to ensure that new events being introduced do not expose animals to the unnecessary fear, stress, and risk associated with rodeos.
Port Moody joins two more B.C. municipalities with rodeo bylaws
The move to ban inhumane rodeo events including bucking, roping, wrestling, and mutton busting in Port Moody follows similar bylaws in place in the City of Vancouver and District of North Vancouver. It also aligns with public polling that indicates a majority of B.C. residents are opposed to the use of animals in rodeo events.
Could your municipality be the next community to prohibit inhumane rodeo practices? Call on your city council to protect animals used in rodeo events!
Roping, bucking, wrestling and mutton busting events at rodeos subject animals to fear, discomfort, stress and an unnecessary risk of injury, all for the sake of entertainment. Photos and videos taken at rodeos in British Columbia highlight these animal welfare issues and reiterate the need for stronger municipal bylaws.
Recent footage from B.C. rodeos reveals numerous animal welfare issues, including stressed and frightened animals being roughly handled and deliberately agitated into fleeing and bucking. Watch the video below to see how inhumane practices and tools cause animal suffering in rodeo events.
More than 5,800 people commented on new dairy industry guidelines
Last year, the VHS and other animal organizations across Canada spoke out for animals during a consultation period on the National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) Dairy Cattle Code of Practice, which provides guidelines for the care of dairy cows on farms across Canada, and shared tips on how to call for much-needed improvements during the public comment period. Thousands of animal advocates and concerned consumers responded, and the Code received a record-setting 5,800+ comments!
The NFACC has now released its updated Dairy Cattle Code of Practice. The strong public response during the public consultation prompted some positive changes, including stronger restrictions around abusive handling, changes to housing models, and a ban on branding. However, several areas of the Code still fall short of expectations.
Click or tap the headings below for more details on each section.
Calf housing – Pair/group housing to be required, but not until 2031
A primary area of concern noted in the public consultation was around calf housing. Approximately 63% of farms currently keep dairy calves in individual housing. This lack of social and physical contact with other calves can cause significant stress for calves. Despite this, the new code continues to allow calves to be kept in individual housing until 2031, at which point they are to be housed in pairs or groups by 4 weeks old. The stressful industry practice of separating mothers and newly born calves was unaddressed in the new code.
Cow housing – Continuous tethering to be phased out, but details needed around freedom of movement
Currently, cows can be kept tethered in individual stalls and there has been no requirement for access to pasture, outdoors or a sheltered, bedded pen. Under the new code, continuous tethering will be prohibited by 2027, at which point cows must be provided “sufficient regular opportunity for freedom of movement”. What this means in practice is yet to be determined.
No requirement for outdoor access
The NFACC acknowledges that cows are “naturally motivated to access pasture and graze” and that “regular access to open outdoor areas or bedded packs improves hoof health, reduces the frequency and severity of injuries, and can reduce the occurrence of lameness”. Despite this, the new code does not require that cows be provided access to sheltered, bedded packs, exercise yards, or the outdoors.
No emergency plans required, despite recent disasters
The public consultation period for the dairy code began just weeks after catastrophic flooding hit British Columbia in 2021. This emergency, along with the record-breaking heat waves from earlier that same year, claimed the lives of 1.3 million farmed animals and reiterated the need for emergency plans for farms. Shockingly, the new code fails to include any requirements around emergency planning.
Compromised and lactating cows still allowed to be transported
Transport is a particularly stressful process for farmed animals, especially for dairy cows who may be in poor condition after their milk production declines or who are ill or injured. Still, the new code allows compromised (e.g. mild lameness, not fully healed from a procedure) or still lactating cows to be transported, putting them at risk of further injury and suffering.
Stronger language introduced around abusive handling
The new code prohibits abusive handling, which it defines as including but not limited to “kicking, beating, striking, tail twisting, dragging, improper use of a prod, and forcefully pulling cattle by the tail, head, or neck.”
The new Dairy Code of Practice can be read in full here (opens as a PDF).
Monitoring, enforcement and penalties needed
To protect the well-being of dairy cows, the new Code of Practice must be paired with independent, proactive third-party oversight; enforcement; and effective penalties.
The 2021 undercover investigation of Cedar Valley Farms, a B.C.-based dairy farm, reiterates the importance of proactive monitoring to deter and catch cruelty violations. Footage from the farm revealed serious instances of illegal animal abuse. A former employee of Cedar Valley Farms, who worked there for four years, told media he’d repeatedly reported the abuse, but nothing changed.
Now is your chance to speak up for farmed animals! The B.C. government is currently conducting a review of the province’s farmed animal welfare framework. Use the quick action tool below to send a message to B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture.