Categories
Opinion Editorial

GM Canada should stop sponsoring the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

The death of six horses in last year’s Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race may have marked a turning point in public support for the event, with even die-hard chuckwagon fans calling for change.

The key question, however, is whether corporate sponsors of the race will continue to support an event that attracts negative headlines and public outrage virtually every year.

More than 70 horses have died in the event since 1986 and none of the much-publicized safety initiatives, rule changes, and reforms announced by the Stampede has made any difference.

The horses keep on dying.

Yet, on March 19, Calgary will again host the annual GMC Rangeland Derby canvas auction, in which companies will bid to advertise on the tarps covering the chuckwagons that will compete in July’s races at the Stampede.

The bidding companies tend to be local, with many involved in construction or the oil and gas industry. With relatively strong local support for chuckwagon racing, the companies are unlikely to face consumer pressure to distance themselves from the event, despite the annual horse carnage.

But General Motors Canada, which is the title sponsor for the chuckwagon race, is a national and international brand. While associating that brand with the macho “half-mile of hell” might have made sense 30 year ago, does it still?

There have been clear signs that society is growing uncomfortable with the use of animals in entertainment: Ringling Bros. Circus has gone out of business, SeaWorld no longer features orca whale shows, and Canada has banned whale and dolphin captivity. And, according to a 2019 poll by Research Co., a majority of Canadians (59%) are opposed to rodeos.

Meanwhile, General Motors seems to be adopting a more progressive brand. In 2017, the company announced that “General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” ending its century-long relationship with gasoline and diesel. In addition, GM has launched a major “diversity and inclusion” initiative to increase the number of women and minorities it employs. If that’s a brand that’s looking to the future and aiming to broaden its appeal, where do chuckwagon races and dead horses fit?

Yet GM Canada continues to sponsor not only the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race, but also a number of other races organized by the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA). Although media attention has focused on horse deaths at the Stampede, horses have also been killed at WPCA races in several prairie towns, including one in Medicine Hat in 2017, two in Bonnyville in 2012, and four in Grand Prairie in 2009.

Perhaps GM Canada believes the rugged machismo of chuckwagon racing will still resonate with some of its customers, making it worth associating with the event. But, brand values aside, there remains an ethical question: How can the company support an event that every year puts animals at undue risk of injury and death just to amuse a crowd?

While the Calgary Stampede and its supporters have ignored the arguments made by animal advocates against the chuckwagon race for decades, it is harder to ignore independent academic research that examines animal welfare in the race.

A 2017 study of the Stampede’s chuckwagon race by Professor Kevin Young at the University of Calgary concluded that “there are obvious and acknowledged examples of harm/abuse toward the animals involved.”

Professor Young also addressed the Stampede’s program of safety and rule changes, describing it as being “as much about marketing and public image as it is about animal safety, especially in the face of ongoing harm to horses.”

The study simply confirms what facts and common sense tells us: The chuckwagon race kills and injures horses for the sake of entertainment and the Stampede has failed to stop it.

There are good branding and marketing reasons for GM Canada to reconsider its sponsorship of chuckwagon racing, but the ethical case is even stronger.

They should do the right thing and stop supporting this gruesome spectacle.

Categories
Media Release

Most Canadians are against rodeo so why is it being celebrated at the Grey Cup?

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling on the Canadian Football League (CFL) to cancel a rodeo being held as part of this year’s Grey Cup Festival in Calgary.  The call comes as a new poll shows that a majority of Canadians are opposed to rodeo. The poll, by Research Co., found that almost three-in-five Canadians (59%) are opposed to using animals in rodeos, with only 34 per cent in favour.  Even in Alberta, 49 per cent of residents oppose rodeo, according to the poll.

“The Grey Cup Festival is a national event, supposedly representing Canadian culture and values,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker, “So why is the CFL including a rodeo, which most Canadians oppose?”

Fricker added that the public outrage at the deaths of six horses at this year’s Calgary Stampede and the Stampede’s long history of controversy over animal deaths and cruelty made it hard to understand why the CFL would associate itself with rodeo.

“It seems tone-deaf for the CFL to link Canadian football to rodeo at the league’s premiere event,” he said.

VHS has launched a campaign asking the public to urge the CFL to drop the rodeo from its Grey Cup plans.

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Categories
Opinion Editorial

Why the CFL’s Grey Cup rodeo is a huge marketing blunder

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

The Canadian Football League’s decision to hold a rodeo as part of this year’s Grey Cup festivities is a marketing blunder that not only ignores public concerns about animal welfare but also tarnishes the CFL’s brand by linking it to rodeo’s narrow cultural appeal.

Sure, rodeo is popular in Calgary, this year’s Grey Cup host, but polling shows a majority of Canadians (63%) are opposed to rodeo, with opposition higher in B.C. (66%), Ontario (68%) and Quebec (70%).

Six horses died at this year’s Calgary Stampede, sparking a public outcry and increasing the animal death toll at the Stampede to more than 100 since 1986.

Not only are most Canadians opposed to rodeos, but so are virtually all animal welfare organizations. Humane Canada, which represents most SPCAs and humane societies in the country, has stated that it is “opposed in principle to rodeo and is working towards the ultimate abolition of this activity.” The same is true outside Canada, with the national SPCAs of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa taking positions against rodeos. Even the Calgary Humane Society says that it “fundamentally opposes high risk rodeo events.”

There is good reason to be concerned about the treatment of rodeo animals. The bucking bulls and horses that are slated to appear at the Grey Cup rodeo will be deliberately subjected to fear and stress to make them perform.  Flank straps will be cinched tight around their hindquarters to induce bucking as they are coerced into the arena with unwanted riders on their backs, using spurs to grip the animals’ hides.

The bucking is a prey animal’s response to a perceived predator attack, as it seeks to dislodge the rider and stop the stress caused by the flank strap. In bulls, aggression is triggered, as can be seen when they sometimes charge bucked-off riders on the ground.

All of this amounts to tormenting animals for the sake of human amusement. It’s the equivalent of poking a stick at a caged tiger or bear at a zoo and calling their reactions entertainment. It’s unethical, uncivilized and un-Canadian.

The CFL might also want to consider how rodeo’s image fits with an iconic Canadian event like the Grey Cup or with the league’s own brand and values.

In recent years, there has been discussion about declining interest in the CFL, especially in the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver markets, where populations are increasingly diverse.  To its credit, the league launched a “Diversity is Strength” campaign in 2017, recognizing Canada’s changing values and demographics.

But the CFL’s efforts to broaden its appeal pale in comparison to the outreach and marketing of the National Basketball Association and, especially, of the Toronto Raptors.  The recent bold decision by the Raptors to launch new line of team-branded hijabs, part of a broader effort to be more inclusive to fans of all cultures, is an instructive example.

But rodeo, which the CFL is now making part of its most high-profile event, has an image that comes nowhere near the modern, diverse Canada that the Raptors have successfully tapped into. To be blunt, rodeo reflects the values of 1950s America more than those of 21st Century Canada.

Rodeo’s image has also been marked by controversy. In 2013, a rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair infamously donned a Barack Obama mask, taunting a bull as an announcer on loudspeaker shouted “We’re going to stomp Obama now” to a cheering crowd.  A tourist attending the event likened the atmosphere to a “Klan rally.”

Calf roping at Chilliwack Rodeo

Last year, an anti-rodeo protest in Chilliwack, B.C. was cancelled because of threats of violence and a counter-demonstration by the Soldiers of Odin, an anti-immigrant group. In 2013, a rodeo fan at B.C.’s Cloverdale Rodeo was caught on video engaging in a racist rant.

In 2015, the Calgary Stampede had to crack down on the sale of Confederate flag belt buckles and licence plates. Disappointed vendors said the Confederate flag design was a “good seller.”

Headlines about such incidents only add to the negative brand values engendered by animal welfare controversies that plague rodeos.

Canadians value compassion, kindness and empathy – toward animals and people. When Canadian figure skater Keegan Messing recently unfurled the flag of Japan to honour his competitor at a medal award ceremony, he made headlines while making his country proud. What other nation celebrates its patriotism by valuing others? That’s the culture Canada’s sports leagues would be wise to incorporate into their brands.

The Canadian Football League, if it really thinks diversity is strength, should follow the NBA’s example and reach out to a broad audience that represents Canada’s future. The last thing it should be doing is associating itself with events that represent our inhumanity to animals and that harken back to a narrow culture that most Canadians have little interest in.

Categories
Opinion Editorial

It’s time to end rodeo cruelty in B.C.

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

Right here in British Columbia, in 2019, animals are being tormented and abused for the entertainment of a crowd.

In July, a rodeo stock contractor was photographed using an electric prod on bulls at the Quesnel Rodeo.  Last year, the same man was caught using a prod at the Chilliwack Fair rodeo.

While the use of electric prods on cattle is not illegal, the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle states: “Electric prods must only be used to assist movement of cattle when animal or human safety is at risk or as a last resort when all other humane alternatives have failed and only when cattle have a clear path to move.”

Calf roping at Chilliwack Rodeo
Calf roping at Chilliwack Rodeo

If you used a prod to apply electric shocks to your dog you would likely face animal cruelty charges. Farm animals do not receive the same protection under the law, leaving bulls, calves and steers subject to abusive, coercive measures in rodeos.

The B.C. Rodeo Association has stated that it does not condone the use of electric cattle prods and that the matter will be dealt with according to its rules and regulations. To date, no penalty for use of the prod has been announced.

In the Quesnel and Chilliwack rodeos, the prods were being used in the bull-riding event: A bucking bull is released into the arena with an unwanted rider on its back to see if the rider can stay on for eight seconds. The rider wears spurs to grip the bull’s hide.  Just before the bull is released a “flank strap” is tightened around its hindquarters, which causes further stress to induce bucking. Electric shocks would only add to the distress the bull is already enduring.

And it’s not just bulls that suffer. Three-month-old calves are chased across the arena, roped off their feet, picked up and slammed to the ground.  In the steer-wrestling event, the animal has its neck twisted until it is bent to the ground.  In team-roping, steers are roped by the head and hind legs, often stretching the animal off the ground. Flank straps and spurs are also used in the bucking horse events.

Rodeo supporters claim that the animals love what they do, but photos of animals at the Chilliwack Fair rodeo clearly show they are in distress while being forced to perform.  No animal would willingly participate in events that subject them to fear, pain and stress.

Virtually all mainstream animal welfare organizations oppose rodeo, including Humane Canada (which represents most Canadian SPCAs and humane societies) and the national SPCAs of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Polling shows that 63 per cent of B.C. residents are opposed to rodeo.

Chilliwack Rodeo / Vancouver Humane Society
Calf roping at Chilliwack Rodeo

The Chilliwack Fair rodeo (August 9-11) is the last full rodeo in the Lower Mainland. The Cloverdale Rodeo dropped half its events and the Abbotsford Rodeo closed after campaigns by the Vancouver Humane Society. The society is now campaigning for the Chilliwack Fair to drop the rodeo from its program of events.

As Cirque du Soleil has shown, it isn’t necessary to exploit animals to provide engaging entertainment.  Country fairs, including Chilliwack’s, can be successful without spectacles of animal suffering. Isn’t it time we consigned rodeo to history, along with bear-baiting and cock-fighting?

Isn’t it time we had cruelty-free entertainment, not only in Chilliwack but everywhere?

Categories
Opinion Editorial

Canadian veterinarians should condemn the Calgary Stampede — full stop

Article originally published in CBC News.

Does the Canadian veterinary profession turn a blind eye to animal abuse? Or rather, to certain kinds of animal abuse?

It’s a fair question, given the relative silence from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) on the treatment of animals at the Calgary Stampede — which kicks off Friday — as well as the active participation of some of its members who work as vets in rodeo events.

The CVMA has a commendable policy on animals being used in entertainment, which states that the association “opposes activities, contests, or events that have a high probability of causing injury, distress, or illness.” It also states that “animals should not be forced to perform actions or tasks that result in physical or mental distress or discomfort.”

So why doesn’t the CVMA speak out about the distress, discomfort and risk of injury to rodeo animals at the Stampede, or at the more than 100 professional and semi-professional rodeos in Canada? 

Calf-roping and steer-wrestling

It is self-evident that animals in certain rodeo events are forced to perform actions that result in, at the very least, distress and discomfort. In calf-roping, the animal is chased, roped to a sudden halt, picked up and thrown to the ground before being tied up. It would be preposterous to argue that calves would not feel distress or pain as a result of such treatment.  

Similarly, in steer-wrestling, the animal has its neck twisted to force it to the ground. Again, it is obvious that the animal would be distressed by such action. 

In 2013, when a steer’s neck was broken during the event, the Calgary Stampede’s chief veterinarian explained that the break was “accidental” — but how could it truly be accidental when the injury (which required the steer to be euthanized) was directly because a man deliberately twisted the animal to the ground by its neck? 

In a letter sent by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) back in June, the VHS requested that the CVMA formally denounce such inhumane rodeo events, in accordance with the association’s own animal welfare position statement. In response, the CVMA noted that is working on new position statements that will “convey that CVMA is opposed to any events and activities, in rodeo, or elsewhere, that are inhumane and deliberately cause avoidable harm and suffering.” 

However, this response suggests the CVMA will stop short of a necessary and explicit condemnation of rodeo events, in favour of a statement that is deliberately imprecise. But to make a real impact, the CVMA needs to condemn cruel rodeo events — full stop.

What’s more, rodeo vets are clearly not honouring their veterinary oath, which requires them to swear they will strive to “promote animal health and welfare” and to “prevent and relieve animal suffering.” Instead, they are enabling animal suffering by defending activities that clearly cause animals distress and risk of injury – all for the sake of mere entertainment. 

Serving two masters

Veterinarians are trusted by Canadians, and strong opposition from the CVMA would have some real clout in the public debate over animal cruelty at rodeos. Many polls show veterinarians are among the most trusted professionals in Canada, which makes sense: who wouldn’t admire and trust people who devote their lives to keeping our pets happy and healthy?

But the veterinary profession is not just about ensuring puppies and kittens stay bright-eyed and playful. They also help ensure Canadians have meat on their tables. Except for ethical vegetarians and vegans, most people wouldn’t object to that. Farmers depend on vets to keep herds and flocks healthy and productive. But where was the profession when factory farming, with its cruel sow stalls and battery cages for laying hens, were introduced?

The problem is that the veterinary profession serves two masters: clients and animals. If the client is a factory farm or a rodeo, the animals will always come second. It can be argued that the demands of modern livestock production leave vets little choice and they do their ethical best inside a morally flawed system. But what possible excuse could there be for a vet to support the abuse of animals to amuse a crowd of rodeo fans? Vets attending rodeos should make clear they are not there to support the event, but are adhering to their oath to prevent suffering.

The CVMA has long been aware of this conflict of interest that underlies its silence on issues like animal abuse at rodeos. Writing in the Canadian Veterinary Journal in 2012, Dr. Patricia Turner, then-chair of the CVMA’s animal welfare committee, stated:  “Our duties to the animals we care for may often be in conflict with the desires of our clients and employers, or the realities of financial solvency. For veterinarians to become leaders in the field of animal welfare, we must recognize ongoing societal changes in how animals are valued and actively engage in discussions regarding animal use and care by society.”

The CVMA needs to show the courage of its convictions and speak out against the unnecessary suffering of animals at the Calgary Stampede, as well as all the other rodeos that make a mockery of its high-minded principles.

Categories
Opinion Editorial

Let’s put an end to events that torment animals

Article originally published in the Vancouver Sun.

Most people care about how kittens and puppies are treated, but how many people have empathy for a 2,000-pound bucking bull?

The rodeo and bull-riding industries say bulls are mean and “ornery” and, of course, dangerous. They also call the bulls “athletes” — as though bulls have chosen a career in sports in the same way a football player might. They say bulls are just doing what they love to do.

The truth, however, is a different story. Bull-riding events depend on unnatural, coercive and inhumane treatment of bulls.

First, the bulls are bred to buck — a fact bull-riding promoters commonly use to defend the “sport.” But this only means that bulls are bred to have a genetic predisposition to buck. And it doesn’t mean the animal will enjoy bucking. It’s equivalent to breeding dogs for aggression or fear or to have a sensitivity to some form of negative stimulus.

In bull-riding there’s plenty of negative stimulus to make the animal buck. It has an unwanted rider on its back, who is wearing spurs that grip the bull’s hide. Just before the bull is released into the arena a “flank strap” is tightened around its hindquarters, which further induces bucking.

The flank strap is much debated, with rodeo supporters arguing that it’s just a “signal” to the bull to start bucking or that it just makes the bull buck harder. At most, they say, it’s a mild irritant. In fact, just like the unwanted rider and the spurs, the flank strap is causing the bull distress. Consequently, it enters the arena bucking wildly. It wouldn’t behave so otherwise.

The B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act states that: “A person responsible for an animal must not cause or permit the animal to be, or to continue to be, in distress.” However, livestock are effectively exempted from the act, if “the distress results from an activity that is carried out in accordance with reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management that apply to the activity in which the person is engaged … ” 

The drafters of the act presumably had in mind agricultural practices such as branding cattle, which would be illegal if applied to dogs or cats. Until challenged in court, it seems rodeo events like bull-riding will qualify for the same exemption, despite having no agricultural purpose. Sadly, this means the bulls, calves and steers in rodeos don’t get the same legal protection from abuse as other animals.

Again, many will say: why care about bulls? They’re just livestock. Contrast this lack of public empathy with, say, captive whales or dolphins. For years, animal advocates and thousands of concerned citizens have rightly fought to end the keeping of cetaceans in marine parks and aquariums because it’s inhumane to hold them in tanks. The debate between pro and anti-captivity supporters has been fierce, with intense media attention about the issue.

But imagine if dolphin trainers applied deliberately stressful, physical methods — the equivalent of spurs and flank straps — to make the dolphins perform. There would be no debate. No civilized person would stand for it.

Some will argue: yes, but cetaceans are intelligent, beautiful and graceful, bulls not so much. But should we deny compassion and empathy to animals that are not as charismatic as others? As Jeremy Bentham reminded us, the only question that should matter is “can they suffer?”

On Sept. 15, Abbotsford’s Exhibition Park will host what has been billed as an “extreme-rodeo” event, featuring bull-riding, “extreme freestyle bullfighting” and “Mexican bull poker,” all of which involve stressing bulls to make them perform. Animal advocates are calling on Abbotsford city council, which owns the venue, to cancel the event.

The Chilliwack Fair rodeo (Aug. 10-12) also features bull-riding, along with controversial events such as calf-roping and steer-wrestling, which animal advocates are campaigning against.

All animals deserve our empathy and respect, even the strong and powerful.  Isn’t it time we abolished events that depend on the taunting and tormenting of animals to entertain us? The cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack could make a bold stand for compassion and kindness toward animals by doing just that.

Categories
Media Release

Vancouver Humane Society to resume campaign against rodeo cruelty at Chilliwack Fair

Media release

September 18, 2017

Vancouver Humane Society to resume campaign against rodeo cruelty at Chilliwack Fair

Fair refuses to drop steer-wrestling and calf-roping from rodeo

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) will resume its campaign against animal cruelty at the Chilliwack Fair rodeo, following a decision by the Chilliwack Fair Board of Directors to retain steer-wrestling and calf-roping.

The Fair had stated in August that it would review the two events but today announced that it would only modify rules on how they are carried out, rather than cancel them.

“The rule changes will make no significant difference to animal welfare at the rodeo,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker. “Terrified calves will still be roped and thrown to the ground and steers will still have their necks twisted until they are forced off their feet.”

Fricker said the rule changes do nothing to address the fact that animals are being subjected to fear, stress and pain for the sake of entertainment.

VHS will resume its campaign against the rodeo at next year’s Chilliwack Fair.  “We will redouble our efforts to bring public attention to the rodeo and we will raise concerns about additional events such as team-roping,” said Fricker.

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Categories
Opinion Editorial

Ending some rodeo events could restore goodwill

Article originally published in the Vancouver Sun.

The city of Chilliwack has made national headlines recently, but for all the wrong reasons.

In June, animal rights group Mercy for Animals released undercover video showing alleged abuse of chickens by employees of Chilliwack-based company Elite Farm Services at several poultry facilities. B.C. SPCA officials said the footage, which allegedly showed workers throwing and hitting chickens, simulating sexual acts with them and letting some injured birds slowly die on the ground, was “absolutely sickening.”

In May, several employees of dairy farm operator Chilliwack Cattle Sales were sentenced to jail for abusing cows in another shocking animal cruelty case. Undercover video showed employees punching and kicking cows and striking them with canes and chains.

It is unfortunate that, because of these cases, many people across the country may only know the name Chilliwack because of media coverage of animal cruelty.

But now the city finds itself embroiled in another animal welfare controversy, this time involving a dispute over the rodeo at the annual Chilliwack Fair. The Vancouver Humane Society, as part of its campaign against the rodeo, released photos from last year’s fair showing calves with ropes tight around their necks, tongues hanging out, as they are pulled off their feet and thrown to the ground. Steers are shown having their necks twisted until they are bent completely over. The humane society says the photos are evidence of inhumane treatment of the animals and is calling on the fair to eliminate calf-roping and steer-wrestling. The fair’s management has agreed to review the events and its board will vote in September on whether to cancel them for next year’s rodeo.

The issue of animal cruelty at rodeos is not new to B.C. In 2007, the Cloverdale Rodeo dropped calf-roping and several other events following the death of a calf and a long humane society campaign against the rodeo. In 2015, the Luxton Rodeo near Victoria folded, followed by the Abbotsford Rodeo in 2016, both after humane society campaigns.

It’s clear that on the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island at least, rodeos have lost public support. A 2015 survey by polling company Insights West found that 63 per cent of B.C. residents are opposed to rodeos. 

The Chilliwack Fair must weigh up all the arguments and evidence concerning animal welfare at rodeos, including the photographic evidence from last year’s rodeo. It should also take into account the public disquiet over the treatment of rodeo animals that has been so clearly demonstrated by the demise of other local rodeos.

The fair also has an opportunity to undo some of the damage done to Chilliwack’s reputation by those recent high-profile animal cruelty cases. By voting to end calf-roping and steer-wrestling, the fair’s board, would make a strong statement that Chilliwack cares about animal welfare and that it supports the evolution of rodeo toward a more humane form of entertainment. It could show that it supports the kind of family-friendly, non-controversial events that people in the Lower Mainland want, not outdated spectacles of animal abuse.

If, on the other hand, the board votes to retain the two controversial events, it will signal that it doesn’t care what happens to the animals and it doesn’t care what many compassionate Canadians feel about rodeos.

A recent editorial in a local Chilliwack newspaper advised the board to rely on more than emotional observations and “outside complaints” when it makes its decision in September. To take an insular, mind-your-own-business position would make the board, and by extension the community of Chilliwack, look out-of-touch, parochial and backward. Is that the face a 21st century community wants to show visitors, investors and the rest of the country?

The Chilliwack Fair needs to stand up for animals — and for the reputation of its city.

Categories
animal welfare compassion cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo

Chilliwack Fair agrees to review rodeo events

 

 

Calf-roping and steer-wrestling are two of the worst rodeo events

 

 

In response to VHS’s campaign and the release of photos raising concerns about steer-wrestling and calf-roping at the Chilliwack Fair rodeo, the Fair has agreed to review the two rodeo events, including potentially cancelling them for the 2018 rodeo.

VHS has issued the following news release in response to the Fair’s announcement:

 

Media release
July 31, 2017

Vancouver Humane Society welcomes Chilliwack Fair decision to review rodeo events

Review to determine whether calf-roping and steer-wrestling should be canceled

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has welcomed a statement issued today by the Chilliwack Fair that it will review the calf-roping and steer-wrestling events at its annual rodeo “to determine whether such events are suitable to continue in the 2018 Chilliwack Fair.”

“We are pleased that the Chilliwack Fair has listened to our concerns and the concerns of many people who object to these inhumane events,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.  “We urge the Fair’s board to cancel these events when it votes on this matter in September.  “It would be a major step forward in the evolution of rodeo toward a more acceptable form of entertainment.”

Fricker said VHS remains opposed to rodeo in principle but welcomes the Chilliwack Fair’s willingness to at least address concerns over these highly controversial events. 

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Categories
Media Release

Vancouver Humane Society calls for end to cruel rodeo events at Chilliwack Fair

Media release

July 26, 2017

Vancouver Humane Society calls for end to cruel rodeo events at Chilliwack Fair

Society says photos from 2016 fair show rodeo animals suffering

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling for an end to calf-roping and steer-wrestling at the upcoming Chilliwack Fair rodeo (August 11-13).

VHS has written to Chilliwack City Council asking for a ban on the two events and has also called on the Chilliwack Agricultural Society, which runs the fair, to voluntarily drop them from the rodeo program. VHS has launched an online campaign to urge the public to contact the council, the fair and its sponsors to ask for an end to the events.

VHS says calf-roping and steer-wrestling subject animals to fear, pain and stress for the sake of mere entertainment. “Terrified calves, only three months old, are chased, roped to a sudden halt, picked up and thrown to the ground before being tied up and steers have their necks twisted until the are literally bent to the ground,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.  “Tormenting animals to amuse a crowd should be unacceptable in the 21st century.”

VHS obtained photographs taken at the 2016 Chilliwack Fair, which it says show rodeo animals in distress.

A 2015 survey by polling company Insights West found that 66 per cent of B.C. residents are opposed to rodeos.

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