Media Release

Stop the chuckwagon race now

Stop the chuckwagon race now

Second horse dies at Calgary Stampede

VANCOUVER, Juy 8, 2015 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is repeating its call for the immediate suspension of the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race, following the death of a second horse in three days at the event.

“People across Canada are outraged and they are sick of hearing about the needless death of horses at the Stampede,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.

VHS says the Stampede should suspend the race and establish a panel of independent equine experts to determine if anything can be done to make the race safer.

SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

News/Blog Promoted rodeo

Tormenting animals is always outrageous

The harassment of a moose has rightly provoked shock and anger but rodeo animals face routine abuse and it’s considered entertainment.


text2 mooseVideo of several men tormenting a moose in northern B.C. has gone viral and caused outrage around the world. Conservation officers have launched an investigation and the perpetrators could face heavy fines if caught and charged.










textdead-steer1-040523Rodeo0461Meanwhile, rodeos routinely torment animals and hand out prize money to reward the abuse. Just because an animal is “livestock” doesn’t mean it can’t feel the same fear and stress that other animals do.  Cruelty is cruelty.





Please sign our petition asking CBC Sports to stop broadcasting animal cruelty at the Calgary Stampede.












Media Release

Animal advocates claim victory as Luxton Rodeo calls it quits

Media release

February 9, 2015

Last rodeo on Vancouver Island is cancelled

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) and Victoria Citizens Against Rodeo Events (VCARE) are claiming victory after news that the Luxton Rodeo in Langford, near Victoria has been cancelled.

The animal protection groups had campaigned for three years to end cruel rodeo events, receiving considerable local and regional support. A number of the rodeo’s sponsors had dropped out as a result of the campaign.

“It’s a great victory for animal welfare,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker. “It’s a tribute to the progressive and compassionate people of Vancouver Island.”

VCARE Organizer Melissa de Meulles said “No matter what the reason for the cancellation, this is one less ‎rodeo stop for the animals and hopefully the first of many rodeos to close down. Our community can be proud it spoke loudly and stood up for animals.”

The cancellation of the Luxton Rodeo is the second blow to the rodeo industry in recent years. In 2007, after a long campaign by VHS, the Cloverdale Rodeo announced that it would discontinue four key events: calf-roping, steer-wrestling, team-roping and wild cow milking.  VHS also convinced the City of Vancouver to ban rodeos in 2006.


Media Release

VHS response to steer death at Calgary Stampede

July 13, 2014

Another animal dies to entertain crowds at Calgary Stampede

Vancouver Humane Society calls on Stampede to end steer-wrestling

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling for an end to steer-wrestling at the Calgary Stampede after a steer died in the event yesterday. It is the second year in a row that a steer has had to be euthanized after suffering a severe neck injury in the event.

“This is just blatant animal abuse for the sake of entertainment,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.   “Why should an animal have to suffer and die just to amuse a crowd.”

Fricker pointed out that steer-wrestling has no relation to any ranch practice and serves no agricultural purpose.

“This is just a cruel circus event using livestock,” Fricker said. “Compassionate Canadians need to tell the Stampede to stop it.”



VHS statement on chuckwagon incident – July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014

Vancouver Humane Society says chuckwagon race fundamentally unsafe

Man injured, horse dead in separate incidents at Calgary Stampede

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) says the Calgary Stampede should suspend its chuckwagon races after a man was injured and a horse was killed in separate incidents at the Stampede chuckwagon track today.

“We are extremely sad to hear about these incidents,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker. “We hope the injured man makes a full recovery.”

VHS is calling on the Stampede to establish an independent panel of equine and veterinary experts to review the chuckwagon race to see if it can be made safer. “It’s clear that right now this event is fundamentally unsafe and should be suspended until a thorough review can take place,” Fricker said.


News/Blog Uncategorized

No justice for sled dogs

The sentence given to Robert Fawcett for his animal cruelty conviction in the case of the slaughter of 56 sled dogs, shows that our justice system still places a low value on the lives and welfare of animals.

Fawcett received three years probation and a fine of $1500 despite being convicted of “causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals” in a case that shocked and outraged people around the world.  The maximum penalty for the offence is five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

VHS believes a heavier sentence, including jail time, would have been appropriate and would have sent a signal to the public that animal cruelty is a serious crime that will not be tolerated in our society.

It is equally disappointing that, despite the public outcry over the massacre of the Whistler sled dogs, it is still perfectly legal for sled dog operators to shoot unwanted dogs.  It is also still legal for sled dogs to be tethered or chained outdoors for long periods, a practice that is clearly inhumane.  While new regulations have been applied to  the sled dog industry, no new resources have been made available to the BC SPCA to enforce them.

The B.C. government’s decision to increase the penalties for convictions under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (prompted by the case), was welcome.   However, this does nothing to prevent healthy sled dogs from being shot when they are surplus to an operator’s requirements and there are no homes available for them.

The sad truth is that sled dogs will continue to be commodities open to exploitation for profit by an industry that is not known for putting their welfare first.  It should be remembered that Mr. Fawcett was not just some rogue operator or bad apple.  He served as vice-president on the board of Mush with Pride, a leading international sled dog industry group, until he was voted off when the Whistler massacre became public knowledge.  He was a well-known and leading figure in the sled dog world.  Surely, that says something about the industry as a whole.

In our view, dogs should be companions, not commodities.  They should only be euthanised when they are too old or too sick to live comfortably – and euthanasia should be by lethal injection carried out by a vet.  They should not be left tied to posts for long hours or pushed to their physical limits in races just to entertain people.  They should be cherished for their intrinsic value, not their economic value.


News/Blog Uncategorized

Ask Mayor Nenshi to speak up for compassion

Compassionate Canadians must write to Calgary’s mayor.  Here’s why:

It’s time to end cruel calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede and there’s one man who could make it happen:  Naheed Nenshi, the mayor of Calgary.

Since his election in 2010, Mayor Nenshi has done much to enhance Calgary’s image as a progressive city with a heart.  But the city’s image remains tarnished by the cruelty inflicted on animals during the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo.  And calf-roping is perhaps the cruellest rodeo event of all.

Three-month old calves are goaded out of the chute at full speed (up to 27 miles per hour). The terrified animal is then chased by a mounted rider who ropes the calf to a sudden, bone-jarring halt, picks him up and slams him to the ground. The event is timed and the rider who does it fastest wins.

The time pressure of the event and the prize money at stake can lead to poor roping, harsh handling and mistakes by riders – all of which put the calf at risk of injury. But it is not just the risk of injury that is the problem with calf-roping. It’s the fear.

All cattle are “prey” animals and research has shown they are particularly sensitive to fear. Dr. Temple Grandin, the distinguished animal behaviourist, has written that fear is “so bad” for animals it can be worse than pain.

There can be no doubt that a three-month-old calf, goaded and chased into an arena with a shouting crowd is suffering even before the rope pulls him off his feet.  How can tormenting an animal in this way be acceptable as entertainment?  Treating a dog this way would result in cruelty charges.

Mayor Nenshi, as a member of the Stampede’s board of directors, could be a voice for compassion by urging the board to stop the unconscionable cruelty of calf-roping.  By taking this step, the Stampede could begin evolving into an acceptable form of entertainment – one that doesn’t rely on the abuse of animals.

Please tell Mayor Nenshi to speak up for the innocent calves who suffer for the sake of human amusement by emailing him this letter.

More information on the Calgary Stampede rodeo here.





News/Blog Uncategorized

Horses die for our entertainment

News that the HBO series ‘Luck’ has been cancelled after three horses died during production, has put the spotlight on the horse racing industry just as a number of horses have been killed in high profile races.

The deaths of five horses in two days at the U.K.’s famous Cheltenham Festival has outraged animal welfare advocates, including the RSPCA.  Meanwhile, it has been reported that 16 horses have died in the last 14 weeks at New York’s Aqueduct Horse Track, prompting the State’s Governor to call for an independent inquiry.

Of course, race horse deaths are nothing new.  Last year, it emerged that 20 horses had died within as many months at the Hastings Park Racecourse in Vancouver.

And horses die regularly in other forms of equine entertainment, such as rodeos.  More than 50 horses have died at the Calgary Stampede since 1986,. This includes two at last year’s Stampede, as reported by the Calgary Herald ‘s pathetically upbeat headline: Visitor numbers up, horse deaths down as Calgary Stampede ends’ (Six died the year before.)

Supporters of these spectacles should face up to the fact that animals are dying so that they may be entertained.



News/Blog Uncategorized

Sled dogs always at risk

Following the revelations in February about the horrific slaughter of 56 sled dogs in Whistler B.C., various defenders of the sled dog industry insisted that it was an “isolated incident’ and that the industry’s reputation should not be tarnished by the actions of one “bad apple.”

While the Whistler massacre may be an extreme example, there are certainly other instances in which dogs have been put in danger because of the failures of sled dog operators.

Most recently, 37 sled dog were left homeless when an operator in Quebec went out of business.  A former employee tried to care for them but ended up living in a tent in the woods with the dogs tied to surrounding trees.  Animal welfare groups are now trying to find homes for the dogs.

In 2009, also in Quebec, nearly 100 malnourished sled dogs, some blind and many pregnant, were seized by the SPCA from a sled dog business in financial difficulty.

In the same year, about 100 starving sled dogs were seized from an operator in Colorado.  Eight dogs were found dead.

Back in B.C., 34 badly-neglected huskies were seized from a sled dog business in Tumbler Ridge in 2008.

Those are just the incidents that get reported.  Who knows what happens at the many sled dog operations in isolated rural locations that are rarely subjected to scrutiny?

These cases support the Vancouver Humane Society’s contention that whenever a business depends on exploiting animals for profit, those animals will be put at risk.  When equipment is obsolete it can be sold or dumped.  When employees are no longer needed they can, at worst, be laid-off.  When animals are surplus to requirements they become commodities with no rights, leaving them vulnerable to methods of disposal that are at the whim of business owners.

That’s why VHS called for a ban on sled dog operations following the Whistler massacre.  The B.C. government rejected that option and instead imposed greater legal penalties for animal cruelty in the province.  It also established a “working group” to produce a new “standard of care” for sled dogs in B.C.  VHS is urging the working group to at least recommend a ban on the tethering of sled dogs for long periods and take other measures to protect their welfare.  VHS’s full submission to the working group can be seen here.

The sled dog working group is due to report its recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture on September 7th.  VHS, and, no doubt, the public, await the report with interest.