Rodeos will be eligible for recently announced B.C. government funding
The Government of British Columbia recently announced new funding for fairs, festivals, and events; but the inclusion of inhumane rodeo events is cause for concern.
Tell B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport that the use of taxpayer dollars to support inhumane and outdated rodeo events, which the majority of British Columbians oppose, is a step in the wrong direction.
Ask your newly-elected Mayor & Council to protect animals from concerning rodeo events
The return of the Chilliwack rodeo this year, along with a controversial new rodeo held in Langley Township, has raised concerns about the well-being of animals made to perform in rodeo events. Video footage taken at both rodeos this summer shows stressed and frightened animals being roughly handled and deliberately agitated into fleeing and bucking.
Footage illustrates inhumane treatment of animals in rodeo events
The return of the Chilliwack rodeo this year, along with a controversial new rodeo held in Langley Township, has raised concerns about the well-being and welfare of animals made to perform in rodeo events. Video footage taken at both rodeos this summer shows stressed and frightened animals being roughly handled and deliberately agitated into fleeing and bucking.
Municipal elections are taking place in British Columbia on October 15th. The lead up to these elections is a crucial opportunity to raise your concerns with candidates running for Mayor and Council in your community about the inhumane treatment of animals in rodeo events andnote it as an election issue for you.
Specifically, you may wish to ask candidates the following question:
If elected, will you support a municipal bylaw that follows the lead of other municipalities, like the City of Vancouver and District of North Vancouver, in prohibiting inhumane rodeo events and practices, such as roping, bucking, wrestling, mutton busting, and the use of flank straps and spurs?
Tip: To find your local candidates, visit your municipality’s website or search for “[Your municipality’s name] local election 2022”. You can find the list of candidates in Chilliwack and Langley Township below.
VANCOUVER, October 5, 2022 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has released new footage from two B.C. rodeos held this summer and is raising concerns about the treatment of animals at the events.
The footage reveals recurring animal welfare issues, including stressed and frightened animals being roughly handed and deliberately agitated into “performing” for the public, at a controversial new rodeo that was held in Langley Township last month and from the Chilliwack rodeo in August.
The VHS points to clips that show calves, horses and bulls thrashing around in the chutes prior to being released into the rodeo arena. In two instances, horses in the chute can be seen stuck in unnatural and potentially dangerous positions, with one horse on their back and another with their leg stuck in the side of the chute.
Clips also show handlers pulling on the ears and tails of a number of animals; the VHS has long criticized these methods of deliberately agitating animals, which are frequently used in rodeo to goad the animal into bursting out of the chute at high speed or bucking wildly.
In a number of clips, animals that appear reluctant to move or leave the chute or arena are roughly handled. One clip shows a frightened sheep being shoved up onto their hind legs before falling onto their side. Another captures a sheep being dragged into the middle of the arena.
“The rodeo industry has long claimed that the animals used in rodeos love to perform. This footage, once again, proves otherwise,” VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett notes. “If the animals love to perform, why is it necessary to twist their ears, drag them by their tails, and fasten uncomfortable straps around their sensitive underbelly to make them do so?”
Pickett also points out that these events put animals at risk of injury and death, all for the sake of public entertainment.
The VHS points to footage from the Chilliwack rodeo of a calf, who is being chased by a rider on horseback during a roping event, running into the arena fence at full speed; a bull repeatedly falling while being lassoed following a bucking event; and a horse who falls on their side during a bucking event and hits their head on the ground.
Another clip shows a bull fall and land on his horn, appearing to injure it. Afterward, the bull seems disoriented and is reluctant to move. Handlers proceed to pull and drag the bull by the tail, in an attempt to get the animal to leave the arena.
The VHS has been calling on organizers for both rodeos and local City Councils to remove inhumane rodeo events, including roping, bucking, wrestling and mutton busting, from the event programs.
“Recent polling from Research Co. shows that the majority of British Columbians are opposed to the use of animals in rodeos. Meanwhile, more and more communities have moved away from rodeos and toward events like fairs,” says Pickett.
With the upcoming local elections, the VHS is hoping that candidates for Mayor and Council will consider the many alternatives for bringing the community together without the use of rodeo events that cause unnecessary fear and suffering to animals for the sake of public entertainment.
On Thursday, the Government of British Columbia announced new funding for fairs, festivals, and events; but the inclusion of one controversial and inhumane type of event is raising eyebrows among animal advocates.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, the Province will provide $30 million to support B.C.-based events, including sporting events, arts and culture events, community celebrations, agricultural fairs, and one baffling choice: rodeos.
Rodeos are the subject of growing criticism in British Columbia and around the world; and it’s easy to see why. Rodeo events cause unnecessary pain, fear, and stress to animals, both at the event and in countless practice sessions, all for a few moments of so-called entertainment.
To provoke the “performance” behaviours seen from animals in rodeos such as running and bucking, handlers and riders deliberately agitate these sensitive prey animals by pulling their ears, twisting their tails, and using uncomfortable tools like flank straps and spurs. Video footage released by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) reveals a number of recurring welfare concerns at some of B.C.’s most recent rodeo events in Chilliwack and Langley Township.
Meanwhile, evidence of poor welfare practices in rodeo continue to stack up. A new study was published just one month ago on the stress caused by calf roping (also called tie-down roping), a controversial event which takes place annually at rodeos in B.C. Concerns raised in the study include the risk of injury to young calves “such as damage to the windpipe from the lasso, bruising and broken ribs from being violently yanked off their feet and being forced to the ground, and choking from the tightened rope around their neck.” The study concluded that calves exhibited signs of distress across every phase of the calf roping event, from being chased, lassoed and caught, to when they were released.
Unlike human athletes, animals used in rodeo cannot decide whether or not to participate. If given the choice, there’s no doubt they would opt out of being roped, wrestled, and roughly handled.
The use of taxpayer dollars to fund these inhumane events is especially bewildering given the widespread dissent to the practice. Recent polling shows that only 26% of British Columbians are in favour of using animals in rodeo and a whopping 64% are opposed; the remainder are undecided. As a whole, our society is placing increasing value in treating animals with care and respect.
Amongst governing bodies apparently more in tune with community values, the growing awareness around animal sentience is inspiring a shift away from this type of animal exploitation for the sake of public entertainment. The City of Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver have already implemented a ban on rodeo events, as have the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and a host of municipalities and regions worldwide. The Cloverdale Rodeo dropped four of its most concerning events after the death of a calf in 2007, and soon afterwards, the Luxton Rodeo near Victoria and the Abbotsford Rodeo were cancelled in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
It is difficult to see the Province’s announcement of rodeo funding as anything but a confident stride into the wrong side of history. That is why a new campaign from the VHS is calling on the Province to direct funding toward family-friendly community events, rather than rodeo events.
With a myriad of positive events that could use funds to reinvigorate the tourism sector and celebrate culture, community, and compassion, it would be incredibly disappointing for the Province to sink funding into a cruel and outdated practice that, as the majority of British Columbians agree, is better left in the past.
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.
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 fatalitiesin 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 outRodeoTruth.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 onFacebook, Instagram and TikTok for more content you can share to raise awareness of – and opposition to – cruel rodeo events.
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.
People from across Alberta and Canada are flocking to Calgary for the return of the Calgary Stampede, but the event’s program gives reason for pause. For the first time since 2019, the Stampede’s deadliest event is returning: the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races.
It doesn’t take much to see through the thin veneer of the Stampede’s carefully crafted safety-first defenses to the inherent danger on which the races were built. The Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races continue to be the cause of near-annual horse deaths; more than 70 horses have been killed by the event since 1986. Risk is so intrinsic to the nature of the sport that the World Professional Chuckwagon Association openly deems it the Half-Mile of Hell.
The last time the races were held, six horses died. One incident, in which the death of a horse and the injuries of three more were ruled to be caused by driver error, resulted in the event’s first-ever driver disqualification and potential lifetime ban. That driver has since been reinstated and is now slotted to race in 2022 without missing a single year.
In 2021, Stampede organizers cancelled chuckwagon racing due to safety concerns over a lack of practice season. Some of the Stampede’s usual wagon drivers – who purport to have the best interest of their animals at heart – went on record slamming the unprecedented safety precaution.
Unsurprisingly, when a similar event went ahead in nearby Red Deer that season, a horse was injured and had to be put down.
Stampede organizers have had two years to reconsider the deadly sport – but instead of responding to public demands to remove the races, they made a minor rule change that decreases the number of wagons on the track from four to three.
This is unlikely to differ in impact from previous changes, which set a bleak precedent for the outcome we can expect.
In 2011, the Stampede dropped two outriders from the event, bringing the number of horses on the track down to two outriders per wagon in each heat instead of four. The following year, an outrider horse sustained severe injuries after crashing into an unexpectedly halted wagon in an incident that claimed the lives of three more horses.
The problems with the chuckwagon races cannot be solved with simple rule changes. The volume of horses on the track in each heat is indeed problematic, but the threat to the animals’ safety runs much deeper.
Without serious structural changes to the event, the races will always be at high speed and close proximity, running the risk of chain reaction incidents like the one seen in 2012. The races also continue to use thoroughbred racehorses, many of whom have broken their legs during the event. Animal scientist Temple Grandin has pointed to an inherent problem with the use of thoroughbreds as selective breeding for speed has weakened their legs.
Rather than addressing these serious issues, Stampede organizers have opted to bring back the event in full force.
It is worth noting that the return of the chuckwagon races is not for lack of alternative events. The Stampede has been called Canada’s largest arts festival, with visual arts having been incorporated since the event’s inception. The Stampede’s diverse range of music performances is estimated to draw more than 600,000 attendees each year.
With an array of safer options to truly celebrate the vibrant culture of Calgary, it is baffling to see the Stampede leaning back into an event that is as controversial as it is dangerous.
It is obvious that the much-needed shift away from the Half-Mile of Hell will not come from the common sense of the organizers, but from the pressure of the public. If Stampede goers do not wish to bear witness to possible deaths of horses, year after year, the choice is clear: skip the chucks.
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.
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