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. 

– ends – 

SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society  

For further information: Chantelle Archambault 604-416-2903

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The truth about rodeo

The rodeo industry and its supporters have put forward many arguments to defend rodeo. Keep reading to learn the truth about rodeo and how to counter some of the most common arguments.

1. Animals used in rodeo are at risk of stress and injury.

Defenders of rodeo will often argue that rodeo animals are valuable, so they would not be mistreated or put at risk. This is like saying that race car drivers would not put their valuable cars at risk in motor racing. The fact is that the financial rewards outweigh the risk.

Professional rodeo offers large cash prizes and generates significant revenue for those involved. Rodeos are marketed as “exciting” because they are risky and fast-paced, putting animals in danger of stress and injury. For instance, recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

2. Rodeo animals have no choice.

Rodeo supporters will point out that other sports carry a risk of injury, such as boxing or racecar driving. The difference is that rodeo animals, unlike human athletes, have no choice in the matter.

Is it likely a calf or steer would choose to be roped and thrown to the ground? Would a bull choose to be goaded into an arena of thousands of screaming people with someone on his back and a belt tied around his hindquarters?

3. Rodeo events bear little resemblance to traditional ranch practices.

The rodeo industry markets itself as an important part of western heritage and tradition. In fact, most rodeo events bear little or no resemblance to real ranch practices, historic or modern.

For example, why would a real cowboy ride a bull? Why would a real cowboy want to make a horse buck with a flank strap?

A key issue is that rodeo events are timed, whereas real ranch practices are not. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice for Handling of Beef Cattle requires that animal handlers must use quiet handling techniques. Specifically, they recommend against animals falling during handling, and suggest using handling tools, such as flags, plastic paddles or rattles, to direct animal movement. Timing makes these events faster, more stressful and more dangerous to the animals. Real calf roping on ranches is a far more gentle practice in which calves are roped at slow speeds.

4. Chuckwagon races are “a cruel detour to the slaughterhouse”.

Some event supporters will argue against protecting animals from poor treatment in chuckwagon races because they are going to be slaughtered anyway. The fact that some animals will eventually be slaughtered for food is not a justification for abusing them before they die.

Chuckwagon races have been termed “a cruel detour to the slaughterhouse.” While we slaughter millions of animals every day for food, no one would suggest putting it on show, timing it and awarding a prize to the fastest slaughterhouse worker.

5. Events can replace rodeo with animal-friendly and family-friendly entertainment.

Although rodeo is still treated as family entertainment in many places, it is losing popularity as it continues to cause animal suffering.

Many rodeos are part of fairs or other cultural events. By dropping cruel rodeo events, these fairs can become more animal-friendly and family-friendly. They can also gain the support of the 59% of Canadians who oppose the use of animals in rodeo.

Take action

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Advocates in Langley protest use of animals in rodeos Advocates gathered outside the Valley West Stampede rodeo Saturday to protest the suffering of animals used in rodeo. VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett appeared in an interview with City News to discuss welfare concerns. “These types of events take advantage of these animals’ fight and flight response,” Pickett said. “What we saw was things…



End inhumane rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede


Though the chuckwagon races did not proceed in 2021 due to time-sensitive safety concerns, Stampede organizers have not committed to removing this dangerous event or the three concerning rodeo events highlighted by 5,354 animal supporters. Please stay tuned for future actions to address cruel events at the Calgary Stampede.

UPDATE – July 26, 2021

A horse was euthanized this weekend following a chuckwagon race in Red Deer, Alberta.

This comes after the Calgary Stampede cancelled their 2021 chuckwagon races due to safety concerns surrounding the lack of a practice season during COVID-19.

The chuckwagon races always pose a risk to horses because of the fast pace of the event and the proximity of wagons and horses on the track. There are also concerns about the use thoroughbred horses in chuckwagon racing, which tend to be bred for speed rather than skeletal strength. This puts them at greater risk of serious injury and euthanization.

The horse who was euthanized this weekend was diagnosed with a muscular-skeletal injury after the accident.

The loss was tragic and preventable.

Please call on the Calgary Stampede to extend their suspension of the chuckwagon races until an independent review by animal experts can determine if they can be made safer.

The majority of Canadians are opposed to rodeo; so why does a Canadian event marketing itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” continue to host rodeo events?

59% of Canadians are opposed to using animals in rodeo, and yet the Calgary Stampede continues to host cruel rodeo events year after year that cause animal suffering, stress, and even death. It is clear to most people that twisting a steer’s neck until he falls down or stretching him by the neck and hind legs so he is suspended above the ground is inhumane, but these activities are carried out for the sake of so-called entertainment in the form of steer wrestling and team roping every year.

Watch: The cruel reality of calf roping

The cruel reality of calf roping

This is calf roping, an event held at rodeos including the Calgary Stampede.Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an animal-friendly, family-fr…

Perhaps the most obviously cruel event is calf roping (also known as tie-down roping), where a calf who is just three months old—long before the age she should even be weaned from her mother—is tormented or “goaded” in a chute leading from a holding pen to the rodeo arena, so that she bursts out at a high speed as soon as the gate opens. Then, as she runs into a ring at around 27 miles per hour, the confused calf is roped around the neck by a rider and jerked to a sudden stop. The rider will then jump to the ground and quickly tie three of the calf’s legs together as she struggles to break free.

Animals used for calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping can and have sustained injuries during these events that cost them their lives.

Photos of the events make it clear that these animals also experience pain and stress while being roped and roughly handled. Recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

Another major event at the Calgary Stampede is the chuckwagon races, which has been dubbed the “half mile of hell” by organizers and participants. The races involve several teams of horses pulling wagons in a figure eight course and racing down a track at high speed to the finish line. This dangerous event has caused more than 70 horse deaths since 1986—mainly due to crash injuries and heart attacks brought on by stress. Though the event has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, organizers have announced a plan to resume the event in 2022.

Watch: The Chuckwagon races, the Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

The Chuckwagon races: The Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

These are the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races, which have caused over 70 horse deaths since 1986. Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an ani…

What has been done to stop these events?

Thanks to the hard work of Vancouver Humane Society’s supporters and other animal rights advocates, some progress has been made in past years in an attempt to reduce animal injuries at the Calgary Stampede. The number of wagons in the chuckwagon races was reduced from four to three following the deaths of six horses in 2019; it remains to be seen whether this measure alone will make the “half mile of hell” any safer for horses.

Up to this point, progress toward making the Stampede more animal-friendly and family-friendly has been slow and hard-won. A serious change by the Calgary Stampede is long overdue to make this fair one that truly represents the values of Canadians.

What’s next?

The Vancouver Humane Society is calling on Calgary Stampede Interim CEO Dana Peers to remove three of the fair’s most inhumane rodeo events: calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping. The cancellation of the 2021 chuckwagon races also offers an opportunity to employ an independent review by experts (i.e. veterinarians, animal behaviourists, equine specialists) to determine whether or not this event can be made safer in future years. If the Calgary Stampede wishes to be the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, it must stop causing animal suffering and leave these events where they belong: in the past.

Take action to end inhumane rodeo events!

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animal welfare cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo

Too soon to say that Stampede chuckwagon race is safer


Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

VHS and animal advocates across Canada are relieved and pleased that no animal deaths were reported at this year’s Calgary Stampede.

The Stampede says that safety measures it implemented for its chuckwagon race have had an impact.  We hope that is the case, but in fact it’s too soon to say.

There have been three years since 1986 in which there were no animal deaths at the Stampede (1993, 1998, 2003) yet animals continued to die in the intervening years.  Only when a sustained pattern is established, with consecutive years free of animal deaths, will it be clear that the safety improvements have worked.  (It should also be noted that there was a near-disaster in this year’s race when a chuckwagon flipped over, tossing the driver to the ground.)

Agrifair RodeoIt’s also important to note that the safety measures the Stampede has introduced this year, and in previous years, have only come about because of the attention that VHS has drawn to the chuckwagon race and rodeo events.

The resulting media and public pressure have forced the Stampede to take action, although they are unlikely to admit that is the case.

VHS’s supporters and animal advocates who have spoken out across the country should be proud that they have helped hold the Calgary Stampede’s management accountable for the safety of the animals it uses.

But no one should forget that, despite the fact no animals died this year, many animals continue to suffer in the rodeo events.  VHS’s focus is, and always has been, on cruel events such as calf-roping and steer-wrestling – which we have asked the Stampede to ban.

calf roping040522Rodeo082cropresizeRodeo animals are subjected to fear, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment.  That is unethical and unacceptable. Three-month-old calves continue to be chased, roped, tied up and thrown to the ground.  Steers continue to have their necks twisted until they fall to the ground.  Bulls and horses continue to have bucking straps tightened around their hindquarters to make them buck.  All this to amuse a crowd.

Until animal suffering is eliminated from the Stampede and other rodeos, VHS will continue to oppose these events.  We will continue to draw public attention to the plight of rodeo animals and we will always speak out on their behalf.

It is only public pressure that will force rodeos to take animal welfare seriously. Our supporters have been instrumental in creating that pressure and we thank all of you for standing up for rodeo animals.  You are making a difference.





News/Blog Promoted rodeo

The ad they didn’t want you to see

VHS Abbotsford News Ad - June 2015-page-0

Last Friday, the Vancouver Sun ran a story about the refusal of the Abbotsford News to run our anti-rodeo ad, pictured above. The ad shows a photo of the steer-wrestling event at the 2008 Abbotsford Agrifair rodeo.

As the Sun’s story notes, VHS’s lawyers checked the ad.  There is no legal or ethical reason not to run it.  The ad is just expressing an opinion on a matter of public concern, something that is considered central to our democracy and to freedom of speech.

We are disappointed that the Abbotsford News would not let its readers see our point of view.  Newspapers are supposed to be champions of free speech and forums for debate and different opinions.  We understand that the Abbotsford News is a “rodeo partner” – as indicated on the Agrifair website – but that shouldn’t mean that advertising is refused just because it expresses a different viewpoint.

We know that many Canadians, including Abbotsford residents, are concerned about inhumane rodeo events.  If you are one of them, please sign our e-campaign to ask the Abbotsford Agrifair and its sponsors to stop supporting rodeo cruelty. It’s one way compassionate people can be heard, even if some newspapers would prefer they were kept silent.



animal welfare cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo Uncategorized

Is the tide turning against rodeo in Canada?

the chucks

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur



There are encouraging signs that attitudes toward rodeo and chuckwagon races in Canada may be changing, if independent opinion in mainstream media is anything to go by.

A recent editorial in the Vancouver Sun said that it was “hard to argue” with the description of the Calgary Stampede as “a spectacle of animal abuse.”

In the same week, a column in the Ottawa Citizen described the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race as a “brutal mix of human domination over an animal running at breakneck speed in confined quarters” and asked: “Would we miss it if it disappeared?”

Calf roper at 2006 Russian River Rodeo, Duncans Mills, California

Another column in the Calgary Herald, authored by a member of the Herald’s editorial board stated: “…the bottom line is these animals are still being used for sheer entertainment in events that can cause them traumatic injuries and death — and it is unnecessary for them to be subjected to this. Are we humans so hard up for entertainment that we must amuse ourselves by watching events that can cause animals to suffer and die?”

Elsewhere on the prairies, an editorial in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald criticized the Calgary Stampede, stating: “Shutting down the rodeo portion of the Stampede deserves serious consideration.”

Meanwhile, the BBC drew international attention to the deaths of chuckwagon horses at the Stampede with a lengthy analysis titled “Why horses die on the half-mile of hell”.

Update: Yet another opinion piece (in Metro News Canada) critical of the chuckwagon race has been published.

Update: An article in the Ottawa Citizen describes watching the CBC coverage of the Calgary Stampede, stating:”…it was impossible not to feel empathy for the poor animals, so clearly unwilling participants in this painful and terrifying circus. In the name of tradition, the CBC broadcast an ugly and cruel spectacle, one that felt like it took place in a dark, shameful past that the public no longer wanted to acknowledge, or had an appetite for.”

Aside from media comment, it should be remembered that virtually all mainstream animal welfare agencies oppose rodeo.

A 2013 public opinion poll showed that the majority of B.C. residents are opposed to rodeo.  Maybe that sentiment is beginning to spread across the country. Let’s hope so.

News/Blog Promoted rodeo

Is CBC being honest about calf-roping?

B&W Stampede calf roping
Calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede. Is this what CBC Sports is afraid viewers might see?         Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

Anyone who watches CBC Sports coverage of calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede will notice that the moment the rope is tightening around the calf’s neck the camera will pan back to the rider and horse.  It has long been suspected that this is to avoid showing the calf being brutally jerked to a sudden halt, which might upset viewers.

This issue came up in a VHS interview with CBC Radio’s As it Happens program, which asked the head of CBC Sports if it was true that the camera deliberately panned away from the calf the moment it hit the end of the rope.  His answer was that CBC Sports: “will follow an event from start to finish and make quick in-the-moment decisions as necessary, as we do with all live sports coverage.”

Watch this CBC coverage of calf-roping (which in public relations double-speak they call tie-down roping) and you will note that the camera pans away every time.  Another example here.

If what happens to rodeo calves has to be hidden from the wider public, doesn’t that show how wrong and unacceptable their treatment is?

Please sign our petition against CBC Sports coverage of rodeo cruelty at the Calgary Stampede.

Please share this post.


News/Blog rodeo

VHS member responds to Calgary Stampede

How one VHS member responded to the Calgary Stampede’s empty claims of animal welfare

Many VHS supporters took part in our e-campaign calling on the Calgary Stampede to end calf-roping.  Those who emailed the Stampede received this response, which did not satisfy many supporters.  One wrote back to the Stampede with the following answer to the Stampede’s explanations:

Thank you so much for your response. I do appreciate you taking the time to send out your comments.

However, if you want to work with facts you might want to update your information to show that MOST ranchers nowadays use other methods than roping calves for veterinary purposes. As you work closely with these ranchers and cowboys you will know, or should know, that most use corals and cattle squeezes. There is actually not as much roping going on as in the past. Most people have evolved and have thought of easier ways to do things. Of course, I say “most” because some are slow to change … or slow learners. It is also easier for the rancher to use these squeezes as they can attend to more cattle and calves in an assembly line rather than roping and catching each individual one. In fact, using a lasso is a bit of a dying art. But the people who have these roping skills could certainly come up with other ways of presenting their craft without using any animals, and I am sure an audience would enjoy that. But I do realize this means having to be creative instead of relying on old habits. Yes, change is hard sometimes.

And before you say I know nothing about ranching, you are right, I don’t know EVERYTHING about ranching, as I certainly have never run one because I’m a vegetarian, but I CAN speak about what I do know for a fact and what I have witnessed. Three years ago I moved from the Cariboo, which is very much a ranching area, where I did visit ranches. I can tell you with most certainty that every ranch that I had the pleasure of visiting, and sometimes sharing meals with some wonderful people who have run cattle for years, they will tell you that nobody has roped and slammed a calf to the ground since they’ve owned the ranch, despite some of them inheriting it from family. Now I am not saying NOBODY does it, but very few large ranches do it that way anymore. So, ah, I know this is embarrassing for you, and I truly do hate to point fingers, but this again proves how much you are behind the times. But that’s okay, we can move forward now that you have this information. I say that respectfully because maybe you just don’t know all the different ways things have changed.

Also — and I don’t have the actual figures in front of me but I’m sure with some work I can get them — if you’re talking about science, then knowing anything about speed, velocity and torque, which is studied a lot in the car/truck industry for safety standards for vehicles, you will know that anything traveling at a high rate of speed (a calf or steer running) and then suddenly being pulled back by their necks or even a rope around their bodies with force, enough force to knock them off their feet, DOES indeed cause pain. This is why there are seat belt laws. If you have a veterinarian who tells you differently, then he/she is either a lousy veterinarian or is being paid to say this for you. I would love it if you could give me his/her name so I can contact them directly. I think this is very serious that there are veterinarians out there who would openly say this doesn’t cause them any harm. I would like to follow up on this and would be happy to do a demonstration for them if them like.

In addition, cinching up on sensitive areas on bulls and horses to make them buck does cause pain, which is evident by them bucking. As I stare out at my two horses right now as I’m writing this, who are peacefully standing in the shade under a tree, I don’t see them bucking around the yard. So that certainly isn’t something natural that they do. So this bucking is something that is visible to everyone and anyone involved in this so called “sport” will tell you, “Yes, we inflict this pain to make them buck and then we release the strap,” as if relieving them of the pain that you wilfuly inflicted makes everything okay. So again, if a veterinarian is telling you differently, then truly I want to speak to these veterinarians as I believe that goes against the Veterinarian Association’s Code of Conduct about willingly inflicting pain and suffering on an animal. This is intentional harm to an animal and I am hopeful that with how hard some people are working to change the laws in Canada that every time this is done these people can be charged with animal cruelty. People are also working hard on getting these laws amended to be written in more “layman’s terms” so there won’t be any misinterpretation.

Now, I don’t want to end this without giving you some great suggestions moving forward. How about instead of spending so much time justifying cruelty to animals for money, how about you try to evolve and think of new ways to have a festival. You can still have your parades with horses in them. You can keep all the wonderful food, drinks and rides. You could have some beautiful animals that are well taken care of that kids can see and pets that are kept in shady areas and offered plenty of food and water. You can have fun events like having a bunch of these so-called “cowboys” pulling around wagons with guys or girls on them. You could have people running and then another person roping them and pulling them to the ground. Hmm, somehow I think there could be human rights issues there. But honestly, if it’s okay to treat animals that way without being charged then why not do it to people? More seriously, though, how about having some bulls running around and the object is, with sticky tape, a person runs up to the bull and tries to pin as many of their team’s ribbons to the bull’s body. That was a suggestion made by a friend of mine and I think it’s brilliant! Now there’s one with an element of danger for the guy that needsto prove something, yet no harm comes to the bull.

So I will end by saying your Stampede is outdated and this is why we’re trying to change things. The world is evolving. That’s what the human species does … or should do anyway. There is a huge drop in circuses with animals and rodeos WILL be next. While I am sure there are still people out there that think sweat shops or slavery is still okay as long as it is for someone’s entertainment and/or profit, there are more people that are working hard to change this. It took a while for the Civil Rights Movement, and in some areas, people are STILL struggling with this, but kindness and compassion are winning and will always win. I personally dedicate my life to ending cruelty to anything. So I can tell you that I am not going away and if all goes well you’re going to have me bothering you for years to come. But I would be more than happy to work with you rather than against you. Less stress for both of us.

If you would like any further humane suggestions for having fun please feel free to contact me as I can come up with a whole bunch more if you like. I’m always happy to help.

Oh, wait, one last thing, in case you didn’t know, nobody uses chuck wagons any more either.

Yours sincerely,
Jackie Thipthorpe

cruelty News/Blog rodeo

Help us fight rodeo cruelty at the Calgary Stampede

cruelty of calf-roping at Calgary Stampede
Photo – Joanne McArthur


If you think what’s happening in this photo is wrong then help us stop it. 

Support our campaign against rodeo cruelty at this year’s Calgary Stampede.




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.