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News/Blog

Ramping up efforts to end rodeo cruelty

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur\We Animals Media

With the 2024 rodeo season underway, the VHS continues to campaign for an end to inhumane rodeo events. This includes reaching out to decision-makers at various levels about growing public opposition to rodeo and the harms of roping, wrestling, and bucking events. 

Last year, the VHS shared footage from harmful rodeo events across B.C. and encouraged supporters to reach out to their local decision-makers to ban these events. An opinion piece published in the Daily Hive in November entitled “A stressful and fear-filled glimpse into an animal’s first rodeo” outlined the welfare concerns around rodeo, highlighting recent footage from a steer riding event in Merritt. 

What happened at B.C. rodeos in 2023?

Newly released footage from several B.C. rodeos reveals recurring animal welfare issues, including animals being hit, kicked, and having their tail and ears twisted and pulled.

To date, around 6,000 people have used the VHS’s quick action tool to share footage from recent rodeos with their local city council and to call for a bylaw to prohibit inhumane rodeo events in their community.  

Take quick action on rodeo in your community

Meanwhile, the VHS is working with concerned Calgarians to call for an end to the controversial rodeo and deadly chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede. In May, the VHS launched a new billboard campaign to raise awareness of how animals suffer when used in rodeo events. The billboards will run across Calgary leading up to, during, and after the Calgary Stampede. The billboards have been shared by major Calgary media including CTV News Calgary, Global News, and the Daily Hive.  

Read the news articles

The billboards also draw attention to new polling conducted by Research Co., commissioned by the VHS, which found that more than half of Calgarians oppose government funding of rodeo events. The poll also found that more than half of Albertans disagree 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.  

Nationally, more than half of Canadians disagree with the use of animals in the five rodeo events surveyed: steer wrestling (61%), calf roping (60%), bull riding (55%), bronc riding (also 55%) and chuckwagon racing (53%). In terms of the use of taxpayer dollars to fund rodeo events, almost two thirds of Canadians (65%) disagree with the government providing such funding.  

Learn more at RodeoTruth.com
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News/Blog

Video from Sisters Rodeo captures rodeo bull jumping fence, tossing spectator

Cover photo: Jo-Anne McArthur \ We Animals Media.

Content warning: The video associated with this article shows a bull jumping over a fence and injuring a human.

Shocking video captures rodeo bull jumping fence, tossing spectator – National | Globalnews.ca

In video footage of the rampaging bull, people are seen scrambling out of the animal’s path as it charges through the Oregon fairgrounds.

This article from Global News highlights a recent video of a bull named Party Bus jumping over a fence at the Sisters Rodeo in Oregon and tossing a person into the air. Three people were injured in the incident, two of whom were taken to the hospital.

Roping, wrestling and bucking events take advantage of animals’ “fight, flight or freeze” fear response. This response provokes the behaviours expected in rodeo events, such as violent bucking and rapid fleeing. It can also lead to unpredictable behaviours that can be dangerous to both the animals and the humans around them.

Can you take the quick action to say no to inhumane and risky rodeos in your community?

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News/Blog

Horse euthanized after injury at Hastings Racecourse

Recent articles from CTV News Vancouver and Victoria News highlight the tragic death of Lizzie’s Rayne at Hastings Racecourse and the Vancouver Humane Society’s response.

Scroll down for links to the articles or take the pledge not to attend horse racing events.

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Victoria News

Horse euthanized after injury during race at Vancouver racecourse

It’s the 1st death of the season, which began April 27; there were 8 deaths in 2022 and 2023 each

VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault said, “These horses are being bred and run to death for the sake of an afternoon of human entertainment because there is profit to be made in people attending and betting on races.”

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CTV News Vancouver

Horse euthanized after injury at Hastings Racecourse

A racehorse was euthanized after suffering an injury during a race at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver over the weekend.

“The racing industry puts these beautiful, sensitive animals through fear, stress, and risk to their lives, and these incidents are commonplace,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault. “This is why the VHS is asking Vancouverites not to attend horse racing events.”

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Media Release

Horse dies just weeks into Hastings race season 

Incident reportedly results in horse death at Hastings Racecourse, May 25, 2024

Less than one month after the racing season began at Hastings Racecourse, the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has received an anonymous tip that 3-year-old Lizzie’s Rayne was euthanized following an incident at Saturday’s event. Video: Hastings Racecourse.

Update

On May 28, 2024, B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) confirmed in an email to the Vancouver Humane Society that Lizzie’s Rayne sustained a complete fracture of the left hind leg on May 25. The injury was unrecoverable and Lizzie’s Rayne was euthanized. Her tragic death marks the first horse death at Hastings Racecourse since the racing season began on April 27.

VANCOUVER, May 27, 2024 – Less than one month after the racing season began at Hastings Racecourse, the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has received an anonymous tip that a horse was euthanized following an incident at Saturday’s event. 

3-year-old Lizzie’s Rayne reportedly broke her leg during the running of the fourth race. In a live video of the event, Lizzie’s Rayne appears to be forced between the rail and another horse. She can be seen stumbling and falling behind, and does not finish the race. 

“Each time a horse loses their life at Hastings Racecourse, it is heartbreaking and sadly unsurprising,” said VHS’s Communications Director, Chantelle Archambault. “The racing industry puts these beautiful, sensitive animals through fear, stress, and risk to their lives, and these incidents are commonplace.” 

The BC’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) confirmed that there were eight horse deaths at Hastings Racecourse last year, including four horse deaths in the span of just three weeks between July 16 and August 7. 

The VHS has pointed to inherent welfare concerns around horse racing, including stressful, aversive training methods, the use of painful tools like whips and bits, the breeding of thoroughbred horses for speed rather than skeletal strength, the risk of injury and death, and the risk of being auctioned off for slaughter for horses who are no longer profitable at the end of their short careers. 

“This is why the VHS is asking Vancouverites not to attend horse racing events. These horses are being bred and run to death for the sake of an afternoon of human entertainment because there is profit to be made in people attending and betting on races.”

More information and a pledge not to attend horse racing events can be found on the VHS website

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society     

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

Related links: https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/posts/hastings-racecourse-begins-live-racing-season/

Related media: https://youtu.be/P0NHNcogYBc?si=A-GpIqOmjbXYEsHJ

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Media Release

Videos from recent rodeo in Keremeos raise animal welfare concerns 

VANCOUVER, May 27, 2024 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is raising concerns after footage from a rodeo held in Keremeos over the May long weekend showed stressed animals being put at risk of serious injury. 

“It was shocking and quite frankly difficult to watch some of the footage”, said VHS Campaign Director, Emily Pickett. “One video shows a roped steer being dragged around the arena behind a fleeing roping horse. You can hear the announcer yelling for someone to cut the rope and, at one point, the steer defecates – which, in this context, is an indication of stress. Finally, the rope is cut and the steer is freed, but we don’t know if the steer sustained any serious injuries from the incident, as injuries may take up to 48 hours to present and that information isn’t made readily available to the public.”

Footage also showed a horse in a bad way, with a foot stuck in an unusual body position. It appears like the horse fought being in the chute and then gave up, with a response that looks like learned helplessness. This kind of shut down behaviour happens when an uncomfortable or painful situation presents repeatedly and there is no escape. 

In yet another video, a visibly agitated bull gets his hind leg stuck for several minutes between the bars of a bucking chute, with little effort made to assist the animal as the rodeo carries on around him. 

The VHS pointed to public polling conducted in February which found that just under three in five Canadians said that they would “probably” or “definitely” not watch bull riding (59%) and saddle bronc (58%), two of the events seen in this month’s Keremeos rodeo. 

This is not the first time the VHS has released concerning rodeo footage in B.C. In recent years, videos from other rodeos have highlighted animals being inhumanely handled and deliberately agitated. These more recent incidents at the Keremeos rodeo reiterate the risk of serious injury and death that animals used in rodeo events face, all for the sake of public entertainment.  

The VHS is encouraging decision-makers to prohibit roping, wrestling and bucking events, which rely on the use of fear, discomfort and stress to make animals perform. Other jurisdictions are already leading the way, including the City of Vancouver, District of North Vancouver and City of Port Moody, which all have bylaws prohibiting inhumane rodeo events and practices.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

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

Related links:

Related media:  

Raw footage: 

A steer is dragged at Keremeos Rodeo

A steer is roped before being dragged across the arena by a roping horse at Keremeos Rodeo. The steer displays signs of stress. Source: Vancouver Humane Society.

A horse becomes caught in the chute at Keremeos Rodeo

A bucking horse becomes caught in the chute at Keremeos Rodeo and displays signs of learned helplessness. Source: Vancouver Humane Society.

A bull’s leg gets stuck in the chute at the Keremeos Rodeo

A bull struggles in the chute at Keremeos Rodeo when his leg becomes trapped. Source: Vancouver Humane Society.

A steer falls at Keremeos Rodeo

A steer falls during an event at Keremeos Rodeo. Source: Vancouver Humane Society.

A steer is agitated, caught in the chute, and wrestled at Keremeos Rodeo

A steer is agitated in the chute and repeatedly has his leg stuck between the bars in a steer wrestling event at Keremeos Rodeo. Source: Vancouver Humane Society.

Colour graded videos: 

A steer is dragged at Keremeos Rodeo

A steer is roped before being dragged across the arena by a roping horse at Keremeos Rodeo. The steer displays signs of stress. Source: Vancouver Humane Society. Colour graded.

A horse becomes caught in the chute at Keremeos Rodeo

A bucking horse becomes caught in the chute at Keremeos Rodeo and displays signs of learned helplessness. Source: Vancouver Humane Society. Colour graded.

A bull’s leg gets stuck in the chute at the Keremeos Rodeo

A bull struggles in the chute at Keremeos Rodeo when his leg becomes trapped. Source: Vancouver Humane Society. Colour graded.

A steer is run down by a horse at Keremeos Rodeo

A steer falls during an event at Keremeos Rodeo. Source: Vancouver Humane Society. Colour graded.

A steer is agitated, caught in the chute, and wrestled at Keremeos Rodeo

A steer is agitated in the chute and repeatedly has his leg stuck between the bars in a steer wrestling event at Keremeos Rodeo. Source: Vancouver Humane Society. Colour graded.

Categories
News/Blog

Calgary media shares VHS billboards on rodeo cruelty

Could the future of the Calgary Stampede be rodeo-free? Public opinion is shifting on the controversial rodeo and chuckwagon racing, and new billboards from the Vancouver Humane Society are raising more awareness about the animal welfare concerns associated with these events.

The billboards are featured in Calgary media outlets including CTV News Calgary, Global News, and the Daily Hive.

Learn more at RodeoTruth.com

CTV News Calgary

Calgary billboards ask people to skip the rodeo, chuckwagon races

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has taken out a series of billboard ads around Calgary encouraging people to skip the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Stampede this summer.

“The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has taken out a series of billboard ads around Calgary encouraging people to skip the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Stampede this summer.”

Read the article

Global News

Animal rights activists say Stampede ‘not entertainment; it’s cruelty’ – Calgary | Globalnews.ca

The start of the Calgary Stampede is over 7 weeks away, but the Vancouver Humane Society has already launched a campaign urging Calgarians to skip the rodeo and chuckwagon races.

“‘The billboards encourage people to rethink supporting events that cause animal suffering,’ says the Society’s director of communications, Chantelle Archambault. ‘It’s not entertainment. It’s cruelty.'”

Read the article

Daily Hive

Billboards are popping up urging people to skip an iconic Calgary Stampede event | News

There are billboards popping up around Calgary protesting a long-standing and controversial event at the Stampede.

“Billboards are popping up around Calgary protesting a long-standing and controversial event at the Stampede. The billboards, released by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), encourage Calgarians to shift their perspectives around the Stampede rodeo and chuckwagon races.”

Read the article
Categories
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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News/Blog

Horse racing season to begin at deadly Hastings Racecourse

  • April 27th marks the beginning of live racing season at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver.
  • Last year, eight horses lost their lives at Hastings.
  • Horses used in racing events endure stress, pain, and risk to their lives due to the high-pressure events, aversive training methods, and the use of painful tools like whips and bits.
  • Horses who no longer generate a profit are at risk of being sent to auction, where they face further trauma and can end up on a slaughterhouse floor.

Can you take the pledge to boycott inhumane horse racing events and add your name in support of protecting horses?

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2023 incidents

Take the pledge to say no to horse racing

By taking the pledge today, you will reflect your concern about recent race horse fatalities and incidents and to sign up to receive updates about the VHS’s upcoming horse racing campaign.

Learn more about the deaths of eight horses at Hastings Racecourse in 2023 here.

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News/Blog

One third of Yukon Quest sled dogs injured in past races, study finds

One third of Yukon Quest sled dogs injured in past races, study finds | CBC News

A new study of illness and injury among dogs in the Yukon Quest international sled dog race in past years lays bare how many of the animals experienced “abnormal” health conditions while participating in the long-distance race.

A new study of illness and injury among dogs in the Yukon Quest international sled dog race lays bare how many of the animals experienced “abnormal” health conditions while participating in the long-distance race. 

The research focuses on the races held in 2018, 2019 and 2020, when the Quest was still a 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometre) race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Read the article
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Opinion Editorial

A stressful and fear-filled glimpse into an animal’s first rodeo

Article originally published in the Daily Hive.

Bring up animal welfare to a rodeo supporter, and you’ll often hear the same set of arguments: these animals are trained. They’re used to it. They’re athletes akin to other rough sports, like football or boxing. While these arguments are easily unravelled, new footage from this year’s rodeo in Merritt kicks the legs out from under them entirely. 

The newly released footage taken by the Vancouver Humane Society shows handlers aggressively pulling and twisting a steer’s tail in the chute as he falls to his knees. Footage also shows steers with flank straps tightened around their sensitive underbellies and panic in their eyes, bucking wildly as saliva spurts from their mouths. Several animals become so agitated that they slip and fall to the ground of the arena. 

It’s common to see handling techniques like the ones shown in this video used in rodeo events. Pulling an animal’s tail or shaking their head initiates their “fight or flight” fear response, which causes them to perform the behaviours expected in a rodeo event: running away at high speeds or bucking violently. 

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The newly-released footage taken by the Vancouver Humane Society shows handlers aggressively pulling and twisting a steer’s tail in the chute as he falls to his knees. Footage also shows steers with flank straps tightened around their sensitive underbellies and panic in their eyes, bucking wildly as saliva spurts from their mouths.

Generally, a compassionate observer can see the signs of stress in animals subjected to this treatment, including visible whites around the animals’ eyes, extended tongues, and excessive drooling. The reactions of the steers at the Nicola Valley Rodeo in Merritt are far more obvious, however. A look at the Pro Rodeo website tells us why. 

The Nicola Valley Rodeo page on the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association website lists the Steer Riding Contractor as “local beef cattle,” which suggests these steers are from a nearby farm and not a rodeo stock contractor who raises and keeps animals specifically for the purpose of being used in rodeo events.

Animals from farms are not accustomed to the fast pace of rodeos; in fact, the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Beef Cattle Code of Practice, which serves as an industry guideline for the care and handling of beef cattle in Canada, requires that quiet handling techniques be used on farms. The high-speed, rough nature of animal handling in rodeo events is completely contradictory to the handling guidelines for these same animals in a farm setting.  

Where other rodeo animals may have become accustomed to the stressful and rough handling inherent to the sport, this video footage reveals what could very well be these animals’ first rodeo. 

Of course, it would be erroneous to say that other animals who are used to rodeos no longer feel fear and stress. Adverse reactions from other rodeo animals can be seen in footage from this year’s BC rodeo events as well: a calf defecates as they are pulled along the ground by a rope fastened around their neck; a bucking horse jumps over a fence, landing on their shoulder; and multiple clips show animals thrashing around in rodeo chutes and resisting handlers. 

In other cases, the animals’ relatively subtle response to stressful stimuli like flank straps, ear pulling, and tail twisting could be a result of learned helplessness.  

Learned helplessness is a psychological state that animals can experience when they repeatedly face a stressful situation over which they have no control. Though they continue to experience a heightened stress response, they lose motivation to try to change their situation and appear passive.

Because these individual beef cattle have likely not become resigned to the treatment common in rodeos, their responses offer the public a glimpse into what the beginning of the journey may look like for all rodeo animals. After all, every animal used in these events has experienced a “first rodeo.”

Animals used in timed events like roping, wrestling, and bucking must endure multiple rodeos each season; they face stressful travel between events; and they experience hours of use in rodeo practice sessions, where less polished iterations of the rodeo events seldom reach the public eye. 

Being used again and again for the sake of public entertainment does not transform frightened animals into willing athletes. Despite the pomp and pageantry about rodeo animals and human athletes working together in events, the two parties have remarkably little in common. 

Real athletes understand the rules of the game. They make the decision to sign up and prepare for events. They do not need to be coerced into the arena through the use of physical discomfort and pain. Each time they perform, it’s because they’ve chosen to do so. 

Animals don’t have the capacity to do this. They do not understand the concept of “winning” at so-called sports designed by and for humans. They can, of course, try to opt out of events by simply standing still – despite the stimuli activating their fight or flight instincts and at the risk of being punished for their disobedience.

Most importantly, where athletes’ first rodeos are marked with excitement, this year’s videos prove once again that animals’ journeys are marked by fear. 

With growing opposition to these events and so many other ways to celebrate BC’s vibrant community, the continued use of stressed animals for public entertainment makes less sense than ever. It’s high time for the province to buck the inhumane rodeo tradition.

Take action to end cruel rodeos