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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

2 replies on “VHS member responds to Calgary Stampede”

Good for you Jackie! I wish there were more people out who would choose to get educated about the types of animal abuse going on in the rodeos and that it is not cool to watch another living being suffer! I am very happy to see, on another note, that bull-fighting is becoming a thing of the past in many countries. People are waking up to the reality that cruelty is not cool, especially for the animal involved. The veterinarians who think this is ok are being paid a lot of money from the stampede to say this type of treatment of an animal is ok. If it is so ok, why are they dying?? Seems kinda strange to me that a person becomes a veterinarian for supposedly the love and welfare of animals, then thinks it is ok for animals to be abused in rodeos?? Remind me to never take my pets to (those) vets. Yikes!

Hi there. I feel that this letter doesn’t mean much to me when I don’t know what the Calgary Stampede’s letter said. Don’t you think it would only be fair to show the full conversation instead of just the VHS’s rebuttle? As it stands, this feels like you are only telling one side of the story. Your arguments automatically become weaker when the reader doesn’t know what comments your opponent made.

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