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Ask your B.C. MLA to speak up about two key animal welfare issues

Speak up for sled dogs & wild animals in captivity

The provincial government has acknowledged that two key animal welfare issues are on their ‘to-do list’: regulations related to wild and exotic animals in captivity and dogs suffering in the commercial sled dog industry.

The VHS has shared recommendations for updating the regulations, but government action continues to be delayed and animals suffer in the meantime.

Members of B.C.’s Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are in their home constituencies for the summer, engaging with residents to find out what matters to them. Will you send an email to your MLA calling on them to raise these two issues – and the VHS’s recommendations with the relevant B.C. Ministers?

Send an email to your MLA asking for action for sled dogs & wild animals in captivity

Consider the following key points as you outline your concerns in your own words. You can send a quick email using the form below.

Wild and exotic animals:

  • Wild and exotic animals have complex needs that are incredibly difficult to meet in captivity. As a result, they suffer when kept as pets or for entertainment, including in people’s homes, in zoos, aquariums and at animal rental companies.
  • Wild and exotic animals that escape or are abandoned can pose a risk to the public and to native species.
  • Media coverage has highlighted issues at captive facilities like the Vancouver Aquarium and Greater Vancouver Zoo, including concerns about animal care, animals pacing in small, unnatural enclosures, and incidents where people have been bitten.

Sled dogs:

  • Media coverage has highlighted investigations into the commercial sled dog industry in Canada, including an investigation last year that led to the BC SPCA seizing neglected dogs from a sled dog operator.
  • Videos of commercial sled dog operations often show dogs pacing back and forth at the end of a chain, with little protection from the cold or heat and few opportunities to play or socialize. 
  • Sled dogs can be tethered or caged for prolonged periods of time, as they are only required to be released once a day and there are no requirements for how long. They are also still subject to inhumane methods of euthanasia. Sled dog tour companies in B.C. are allowed to shoot surplus dogs, provided the operator has made a reasonable effort to rehome the dogs.

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News/Blog

Two key animal welfare issues to raise with your B.C. MLA this summer

Speak up for sled dogs & wild animals in captivity

Members of B.C.’s Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are in their home constituencies for the summer, engaging with residents to find out what matters to them. The government has so far been inactive on the VHS’s asks to improve laws for sled dogs and wild animals in captivity. Will you take this crucial opportunity to ask your MLA to speak up to change the laws? Take action now!

Sled dogs & wild animals in captivity need your help

Wild, exotic animals confined in captivity and dogs suffering in the commercial sled dog industry are two issues that the provincial government has acknowledged are on their ‘to-do list’; but action continues to be delayed and animals suffer in the meantime.

Here’s where YOU come in! Now, while your MLA is in their constituency office for the summer, is a crucial opportunity to set up a meeting with them.

You don’t need to be an expert on either of these topics. Instead, what’s important is that they hear why these issues matter to you; what your concerns are; and that you want them to raise the issues, along with the VHS’s recommendations, with the relevant B.C. Ministers.

The VHS put together a step-by-step guide to help engage your MLA and is here to support you along the way. Sign up to receive your MLA engagement guide and get in touch with your MLA today!

Sign up below to get your MLA engagement guide

Ask your MLA to speak up for:

1) Wild and exotic animals in captivity

Wild and exotic animals (animals not native to B.C.) kept in captivity have complex needs that aren’t being met in cages and tanks and that are crucial for their physical and mental well-being.

In captivity, these animals are are cut off from exploring new territory with engaging sights and smells. They are often kept alone or in unnatural social groups, with the inability to escape from other animals they don’t get along with. They are also unable to engage in many behaviours that are natural to them, including hunting. As a result, captive wild and exotic animals often show signs of stress, boredom, and even aggression.

Many wild and exotic animals are legally kept in captivity throughout B.C., including:

  • kept in zoos and aquariums with enclosures a fraction of the size of their natural home range
  • kept in poor conditions by animal rental agencies for use in TV, film and events
  • suffering as a result of inadequate housing, nutrition and care when kept as pets

The VHS has been documenting the conditions of animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo and Vancouver Aquarium for years.

The video below illustrates the need for changes to B.C.’s rules around wild and exotic animals in captivity.

Wild and exotic animals are suffering in captivity in British Columbia

Wild and exotic animals are suffering in captivity in British Columbia as a result of outdated regulations. Learn more and take action: https://vancouverhuma…

2) Sled dogs in commercial sled dog tourism industry

In the commercial sled dog tourism industry are often kept chained outdoors for prolonged periods of time, with little opportunity to exhibit natural behaviours or socialize. When they can no longer be used by the industry, they are subjected to inhumane methods of euthanasia.

Undercover investigations and whistleblowers have shared evidence of:

  • dogs pacing repetitively
  • dogs chained in barren yards with access to dog houses that provide little protection from the heat and cold
  • stories of dogs being euthanized inhumanely, including by gunshot

In fact, B.C.’s current Sled Dog Standards of Care allow for sled dogs to be tethered or caged for prolonged periods of time, as they are only required to be released once a day and there are no requirements for how long. Sled dog tour companies are permitted to shoot surplus sled dogs, so long as the operator has made reasonable efforts to try to rehome the sled dog.

The video below, from B.C.-based tour companies, highlights the need to update the province’s sled dog regulations.

Sled dogs are still suffering in British Columbia

Sled dogs in British Columbia are still suffering as a result of outdated regulations. Learn more and take action: https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/?p=26184

Unable to meet or speak with your MLA this summer, but still want to take action?

Get in touch with VHS at info@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca for a quick way to call on your MLA to take action on these issues.

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Media Release

The future of the Stampede is rodeo-free, according to polling of Calgary residents

VANCOUVER, July 27, 2022 – 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, according to a Research Co. poll commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) during this year’s Stampede.

64% of Calgarians polled indicated that they had attended or were likely to attend the Stampede this year. When asked whether they would attend the Stampede if the rodeo and chuckwagon racing events were removed, 63% indicated they would be likely to attend.

“Until now, we’ve assumed that the Stampede has continued to host inhumane events out of financial motivation,” VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett shared. “These poll results prove that removing the rodeo and chuckwagons would have little impact on visitor attendance.”

The polling results also indicated that the removal of controversial animal events would pique the interest of new crowds, with 24% of non-attendees from this year expressing interest in attending the Stampede without rodeo and chuckwagon events. Of these, the most prominent change was in the youngest group polled; 43% of non-attendees from this year aged 18-34 said they would be likely to attend the Stampede if the rodeo and chuckwagon races were removed.

“We have heard from many people who avoid the Stampede because of the rodeo and chuckwagon races. Dropping those events is a sustainable change that would attract new supporters and visitors to the Stampede,” Pickett noted.

The support for a rodeo- and chuckwagon-free Stampede draws attention to the 103 animals who have died at the Stampede since the VHS began tracking incidents in 1986, including a chuckwagon horse who was injured and consequently euthanized at this year’s event. The VHS filed cruelty complaints to the Calgary Humane Society regarding incidents captured in Sportsnet coverage of 2022 rodeo events.

“These high-risk and inhumane events draw growing public criticism year after year. It’s time for Stampede officials and Calgary City Council to remove these unnecessary events from the Stampede program.”

Pickett invited anyone wishing to learn more about the animal welfare issues surrounding rodeo to visit RodeoTruth.com, an informational website made in collaboration by the VHS and concerned Calgarians.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

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

Related links:

Take the #SayNoToRodeo pledge:

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News/Blog

Horse death and rodeo cruelty concerns prompt call for change at Calgary Stampede

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media

Annual Calgary Stampede wraps up, but not without cruelty and controversy

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), concerned Calgarians and animal advocates across Canada are continuing to call for an end to the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede. This comes after a horse was euthanized following a traumatic injury in the chuckwagon races and two other incidents during a bucking event and steer wrestling event prompted cruelty complaints.

The VHS issued a media release following the inhumane handling of a horse during the bucking event and steer in the wrestling event, as well as the death of the horse in the chuckwagon race. The VHS is calling on the Calgary Stampede and Calgary City Council to remove the chuckwagon races and rodeo events from the Stampede program. 

#SayNoToRodeo

Show your support for ending the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races and rodeo events by taking and sharing the #SayNoToRodeo pledge.

Horse fatality during chuckwagon race

According to a release by the Stampede, a horse sustained an injury during the fourth heat of the chuckwagon races on Thursday, July 14th, and was euthanized.

A witness to the incident said that the injured horse fell and was subsequently trampled by the wagon. They described it as pure chaos, with Stampede staff surrounding the injured horse with tarps, to prevent the public from seeing what was taking place.

More than 70 horses have been killed in the chuckwagon races since the VHS started tracking fatalities in 1986. In the last two decades, there have only been 3 years in which the races did not result in horse fatalities: 2003, 2004, and 2016. The last year the chuckwagon races were held in 2019, six horses were killed.

Cruelty during bucking and wrestling events

The VHS also filed cruelty reports to the Calgary Humane Society regarding two other incidents that occurred at the Stampede this year.

1. Horse struck in the face during saddle bronc event

The first incident happened during a bucking event, in which a horse was repeatedly struck in the face when the animal was reluctant to leave the chute.

Footage: Recording of Sportsnet coverage

2. Steer seen limping after landing on hind leg

In another incident during a steer wrestling event, a steer’s neck was twisted by the competitor until the animal fell to the ground, landing awkwardly on his hind leg. Moments later the steer was seen limping. 

Footage: Recording of Sportsnet coverage

Raise awareness about animal suffering at the Calgary Stampede

Follow & share Rodeo Truth on social media

Check out RodeoTruth.com, a collaboration between the Vancouver Humane Society and concerned Calgarians, for more information about the realities of rodeo.

You can also follow Rodeo Truth on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for more content you can share to raise awareness of – and opposition to – cruel rodeo events.

Like Rodeo Truth on Facebook
Follow Rodeo Truth on Instagram
Follow Rodeo Truth on TikTok

Read and share media coverage about cruelty and animal deaths at the Calgary Stampede

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Media Release

Horse fatality prompts renewed calls for an end to Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/WeAnimals Media

VANCOUVER, July 15, 2022 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling on the Calgary Stampede and Calgary City Council to remove the chuckwagon races from the Stampede program following the death of a chuckwagon horse during yesterday’s event. 

According to a release by the Stampede, a horse sustained an injury during the fourth heat of the chuckwagon races on July 14th and had to be euthanized. This follows the deaths of six horses in 2019, when the chuckwagon races were last held prior to the pandemic. More than 70 chuckwagon horses have died since the VHS started tracking deaths in 1986. 

“There’s a reason why the chuckwagon races are dubbed the half-mile of hell,” says VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett. “The fact that horses die nearly every year in this event illustrates this.” 

The VHS points to the structure of the chuckwagon event as inherently dangerous due to the high speed of the race and the close proximity of the horses and wagons to each other, which also presents a risk of creating a chain reaction if one horse falls or is injured. The VHS also cites concerns around the use of thoroughbred race horses in the event; animal Scientist Temple Grandin has noted that thoroughbreds are often overbred for speed rather than skeletal strength, making their legs susceptible to injury. 

“The chuckwagon horse fatalities at the Calgary Stampede can no longer be called ‘unpreventable’. We know exactly what would prevent them; removing the chuckwagon races, which have caused the deaths of horses nearly every year.” 

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 pain to make the animals perform for public entertainment.The VHS has filed cruelty complaints to the Calgary Humane Society regarding two concerning incidents witnessed on Sportsnet coverage of this year’s Stampede rodeo, including an incident in which a horse in a bucking event was repeatedly struck in the face when the animal was reluctant to leave the chute. In another incident during a steer wrestling event, a steer’s neck was twisted by the competitor until the animal fell to the ground, landing awkwardly on his hind leg. Moments later the steer was seen limping. 

“Public polling shows that the majority of Canadians oppose the use of animals in rodeos,” said Pickett. “It’s time for the Calgary Stampede to move away from dangerous and inhumane events that pose a risk to animals and to instead focus on the many alternative activities that already attract hundreds of thousands of attendees every year.”  

The VHS has teamed up with concerned Calgarians to draw attention to animal welfare issues at the Stampede’s chuckwagon races and rodeo events through a collaborative project, RodeoTruth.com. The Rodeo Truth website includes a #SayNoToRodeo pledge, which more than 2,100 people have already signed to indicate their opposition to animal performances at the Stampede. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

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

Related links:
https://rodeotruth.com/
https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/
Related files:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1f2k7-Ep3cvh89hC4Wqm_40J9Usles0e6?usp=sharing

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News/Blog

Speak out against inhumane rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede

Cruelty at the Calgary Stampede

Canada’s largest rodeo, the Calgary Stampede, is making a full return for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Animals will be subjected to inhumane bucking, wrestling and roping events. This year will mark the first time the chuckwagon races are being held since 2019, when 6 horses died. To date, more than 100 animals have died at the Calgary Stampede.

Share the truth about rodeo

The Vancouver Humane Society is collaborating with concerned Calgarians to raise awareness about the distress and unnecessary risk of injury and death that animals face in rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede.

The new microsite, RodeoTruth.com, hosts a wealth of information, including the latest science about rodeo-related animal welfare issues; a breakdown of the Calgary Stampede rodeo events; engaging videos that you can share to help raise public awareness; and a #SayNoToRodeo pledge that you can take to reflect your opposition to inhumane rodeo events.

Help speak up for animals used in rodeos by sharing the new Rodeo Truth website and taking the #SayNoToRodeo pledge.

Follow & share Rodeo Truth on social media

You can also follow the new Rodeo Truth social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for more content you can share to raise awareness of – and opposition to – cruel rodeo events.

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News/Blog

Petition: Say no to a new rodeo in Langley Township

New action: Sign on to help stop a new rodeo with ties to an ongoing human rights case.

Tell decision-makers that you are opposed to a new rodeo.

Sign onto the petition below to reflect your opposition to a new rodeo being planned in Langley Township.

Your signature will be delivered to decision-makers including the Township of Langley Mayor & Council, asking that they not allow a new rodeo event which is at odds with the values of the community and the well-being of animals.

If you would like to take further action to stop the Langley rodeo from happening, please sign up to receive timely, location specific action alerts.

Learn more & take further action

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News/Blog

Get action alerts: Help stop a new rodeo from coming to B.C.’s Lower Mainland

A new rodeo, with concerning ties to an ongoing human rights case, is being proposed in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

Take action

Fill out the form below with your contact information so we can provide you with local advocacy actions you can take, based on your location, to help stop this new rodeo from happening.

Learn More

A step backward

This is the first time in well over a decade that a new rodeo would be introduced in the Lower Mainland. It also comes at a time when most communities have moved away from rodeos and toward more animal-friendly and family-friendly events. For example, the Luxton Rodeo near Victoria was cancelled in 2015 and the Abbotsford Rodeo was cancelled in 2016.

A ferris wheel at an animal-free country fair
A screenshot of an article from Global News reading "Cloverdale Rodeo accused of discrimination in human rights complaint"

Human rights case concerns

This proposed rodeo has concerning connections to an ongoing human rights complaint. The event contact for the rodeo is listed as Rich Kitos, the former vice president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association and one of the key board members named in a human rights complaint filed against the Association in July of last year and currently still being investigated by the B.C Human Rights Tribunal. The complaint alleges that board members including Kitos conspired to cover up discriminatory conduct, including racism, sexism, and physical abuse.

Changing public values

New public polling reflects that rodeo is not in the public interest, with 64% of B.C. residents and 61% of Canadians opposed to the use of animals in rodeo.

A pie chart showing 64% over a faded background of a horse's legs
A photo of steer wrestling at a rodeo event

Risk of injury

Many rodeo events put animals at unnecessary risk of injury, which may require euthanasia.  This can include broken bones, neck injury or internal damage. Injuries may also not be identified immediately after the event, as inflammation and muscle damage can take up to 48 hours after the injury to present.

Distress and discomfort

Research demonstrates how animals used in many rodeo events experience fear, stress, discomfort and pain when chased, roped, and wrestled. For example, this is supported by evidence of elevated levels of stress hormones in calves after being roped. Another indicator of stress is when the animal’s eye rolls to show more of the eye-white.

A close up of a bull's face during a bull riding event

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Opinion Editorial

Proposed rodeo in Langley flies in the face of community values

Article originally published in The Daily Hive.

A new rodeo may be coming to the Lower Mainland — and that could spell bad news for animals and residents.

Organizers have requested approval from the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association to host the event in Langley this September. The group name, Valley West Stampede Society, may not ring any bells, but at least one familiar face hints at ties to BC rodeo’s problematic recent history.

The committee contact listed on the Pro Rodeo website is Rich Kitos – the former vice president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association and one of the key board members named in the human rights complaint filed against the Association in July of last year. The complaint alleges that board members including Kitos conspired to cover up racist, sexist, and physically abusive conduct.

To see a new rodeo proposed in connection with this name should be a cause for concern to the Langley community.

This new proposal is especially shocking given the widespread opposition to rodeo in BC. According to a poll from earlier this month, 64% of BC residents are opposed to the use of animals in rodeos.

Animal suffering is becoming increasingly difficult for British Columbians to stomach as awareness grows. More and more, the science of how animals think, feel, socialize, and perceive the world is bringing to light the suffering inherent in rodeo practices.

It’s a natural next step, then, to prevent as much unnecessary suffering as we can for these animals. We would not goad a puppy in a chute so that he bursts out at a high speed, only to be roped by the neck and tied at the legs; yet this is the treatment rodeo supporters would have us accept for 3-month-old calves in tie-down roping events. All the while, research and common sense tell us that calves experience stress and fear while being chased, roped and roughly handled.

One of the common arguments for rodeo events is that they educate the public about where their animal-based food comes from. The truth is, if these same practices were to occur on a farm, they would be against the law. The National Farm Animal Care Council requires quiet handling techniques to minimize stress. Roping an animal by the neck at over 40 kilometres per hour would be considered abusive under section 5.2 of the Veal Cattle Code of Practice because of the dragging that can occur.

There is further concern with animals being purpose-bred for rodeo, leading to distressing predispositions like bulls or horses who are more sensitive to negative stimuli. This causes the animals to buck when they are exposed to fear, pain, and stress, such as from the use of spurs and from a flank strap tied around their sensitive hindquarters in bucking events.

Combine this with the increased risk of injury that could put animals in line for euthanasia, and it is clear that rodeo is fundamentally at odds with how we should be treating animals.

The growing awareness around animal welfare is largely responsible for the recent shift away from rodeo events in BC. In 2007, the death of a calf prompted the Cloverdale Rodeo to drop four of its most concerning events: calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and wild cow milking. In 2015, the Luxton Rodeo near Victoria was cancelled; the Abbotsford Rodeo followed suit in 2016. The following year, Chilliwack Rodeo implemented modest rule changes to its calf roping and steer wrestling events, including that a steer must be on his feet before being rolled to the ground.

To approve a new rodeo now which would not only introduce unnecessary suffering to animals, but also have ties to concerning allegations of discrimination in a recent human rights complaint, would fly in the face of our society’s values and the progress we have made. If our community is committed to justice and compassion, we cannot sit by and permit these major steps backward for animals and humans.

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Media Release

Proposed rodeo in Langley would be a step backward for animals

A bull riding event at the Cloverdale Rodeo, 2004.

VANCOUVER, April 27, 2022 – For the first time in well over a decade, a new rodeo is being planned in the Lower Mainland – a move that the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling a major step backward. The Valley West Stampede Society has requested approval to host the new event in Langley from September 3rd to 5th, according to the Pro Rodeo Canada website.  

“This rodeo would be a monumental step backward for animals and for the majority of British Columbians who believe they should be treated with compassion,” says Emily Pickett, Campaign Director for the VHS. “We believe that this event is not in the public interest of Langley residents.”  

Polling from earlier this month shows that 64% of B.C. residents are opposed to the use of animals in rodeos.  

The event’s committee contact is listed as Rich Kitos, the former vice president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association and one of the key board members named in the human rights complaint filed against the Association in July of last year. The complaint alleges that board members including Kitos conspired to cover up discriminatory conduct, including racism, sexism, and physical abuse. 

According to the VHS, many rodeo events subject animals to fear, discomfort, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment and put the animals at unnecessary risk of injury which may require euthanasia. For example, in bucking events, bulls and rodeo horses buck in response to discomfort from the rider’s use of spurs and to the tightened flank strap around their sensitive hindquarters. In roping events, such as calf roping, research shows that calves experience stress when being chased and roped.  

“The very nature of many of these rodeo events is counter to best handling practices for farmed animals, which state that animals should be handled quietly and calmly in order to minimize stress,” says Pickett. 

There has been a move away from particularly inhumane rodeo events in B.C. in recent years, with four events – calf roping, steer wrestling, wild cow milking and team roping – having been dropped from the Cloverdale Rodeo in 2007 following the death of a calf. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society  

For further information: Chantelle Archambault 604-416-2903

Related links: https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/rodeos/