VANCOUVER, July 11, 2017 - The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is once again asking Canadians and companies not to support the cruel animal spectacles that form a part of rodeos like the Calgary Stampede which takes place this year from July 7-16.


Canadian citizens, members of government, companies paying for sponsorships and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) all have a hand in supporting the continuation of this cruel annual event.

“To be fair, we need the blame for rodeos’ continued existence where it squarely belongs – on the head of every person who pays an admission ticket, on the head of every ad agency who told their client it was a great idea to advertise at rodeos, and on the head of every corporation that thinks that this kind of advertising will attract more customers or viewers. Make no mistake. Without advertising, rodeos would eventually disappear,” says HSC Chairman & CEO, Michael O’Sullivan.

The Harper government has openly endorsed the Calgary Stampede and awarded tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to support the cruelty that goes on at the Calgary Stampede. Between 2006 and 2013 the Stampede received $ 25 Million from Infrastructure Canada for construction work on its grounds. In addition, the Stampede applied for $ 10 Million in government grants in 2014 for flood resiliency. The Alberta government has also spent $ 10 Million annually to support the fair.

Stampede grounds cover more than 137 acres of land and although they operate as a business, each year, they avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars in property tax. The Calgary Stampede operates several for profit companies and also several related charities, by doing so it can issue tax receipts to people who donate money to support cruelty to animals.

Not only is the Calgary stampede heavily supported by taxpayers by way of the Harper government but also taxpayer funded CBC Television paid an undisclosed amount for rights to broadcast cruelty to animals in direct violation of CRTC regulations governing violence against animals. The CBC receives $ 1 Billion annually from taxpayers and has been consistently running million-dollar deficits for the past several years.

Over twenty animals have died in front of audiences at the Calgary Stampede in the past six years alone. This figure does not include the hundreds of training animals that must have suffered the same fate over the years behind the scenes. “We need to emphasize that these incidents are the only ones that have been publicized because of news coverage. Rodeo organizers refuse to come clean and tell us exactly how many animals are injured and then are later killed or die from their injuries,” explains O’Sullivan.

Here is a list of the most recent animal casualties of the past seven years:

 2010    6 chuckwagon horses

2011    2 chuckwagon horses

2012    3 chuckwagon horses dead, 1 injured

2013    1 horse, 1 steer dead

2014    2 horse, 1 steer dead

2015    4 chuckwagon horses dead

2016    0 reported animal deaths

So far there has 1 death at the 2017 Calgary Stampede on Monday July 10, during a chuckwagon event.

The HSC Chairman & CEO, Michael O’Sullivan, says the only way to prevent rodeo violence to horses and other animals is to end their sponsorship by corporations and the purchase of their goods and services by consumers. “Every single person who buys a product or service from a corporation that sponsors rodeo events has within their power a way to end the pain and suffering inflicted by rodeos on animals.”

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is asking Canadians and companies not to support the cruel animal spectacles that form a part of rodeos like the Calgary Stampede which runs from July 7-16, 2017.

O'Sullivan, who has inspected rodeos in Canada and other countries holds a Bachelor of Science of Agriculture, and has worked extensively with horses, says that today’s rodeo events have nothing to do with today’s livestock handling practises.“Rodeo spectacles are nothing but entertainment for bored ‘city slickers’. Horses, calves, steers and bulls suffer during countless hours of practise sessions where riders and ropers train to race against the clock for prize money. People need to find new ways to amuse themselves that doesn’t involve this kind of trauma for animals,” he says.

“What reputable rancher would stand still for one his employees roping a calf and jerking the animal to a sudden stop while it was travelling at speeds as high as 40 km/hr? Or what of “team roping” where an animal is roped by the horns and hind legs and then thrown to the ground?

Of what practical use is bull riding? Except to demonstrate that the cowboy has even less sense than the bull?” he added.

And what of “bronco busting”, where the rider sits astride a horse with the object of terrifying the animal and gouging its side with sharp spurs? The flank strap used to make horses and bulls buck is tightened around their abdomens, near their intestines, groin and other vital organs. It is the resulting pain and discomfort that causes the animals to buck. When this belt is removed, these “wild” horses are docile and gentle, and allow people to ride them. What reputable horse breeder or horse owner would sanction such an act of insanity, which ruins a horse for riding or jumping?

Cows and calves are raised today through generations of careful handling and genetic breeding practices. They are worth a great deal as breeding stock.

Rodeo operators also tell the public that the animals are only subjected to about 30 seconds of pain, suffering and terror. However, this is an outright lie. Rodeo cowboys practise with these animals hundreds of times, over and over again, before the cowboys are ready to participate in open competitions for prize money. It is impossible to find out the exact number of animals that are injured or die in these practise events, the animal charity estimates that it numbers in the hundreds each year across Canada.

According to one steer roper, in these practise sessions one person can cripple three to four animals in a single afternoon.

Rodeo organizers also brag about how many livestock they have “saved from going to the slaughterhouse.” Animals that are worn out and crippled in rodeos end up being sold to slaughterhouses anyway. The animal charity says they have searched in vain to find any “rodeo retirement home” for horses and other livestock used in these money making events

But the biggest lie of all is that by allowing rodeos to police themselves with so-called ‘humane codes of practise’ this simply makes everything all right. We don’t need to regulate cruelty for the sake of entertainment. We need to abolish it.

The Humane Society of Canada believes that their five point action plan called “Ending Rodeo Violence” can help reduce and eventually bring an end to rodeo spectacles:

  1. Develop creative engaging campaigns to encourage people to stop paying the price of an admission ticket;
  2. Asking people to stop spending their hard earned money to buy goods and services from ad agencies and their companies which promote rodeos;
  3. The CRTC needs to legally enforce and make into law the current Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’s voluntary guidelines for broadcasters which prohibit scenes showing cruelty to animals; and until this takes place require all broadcasters to issue a warning that rodeo events contain ‘scenes of violence and that viewer discretion is advised’;
  4. Work with any municipalities that want to pass local bylaws to prohibit rodeo events;
  5. Ask insurance companies and their brokers not to provide insurance coverage for rodeo events.

There is evidence that early childhood abuse towards animals can lead to later violent behaviour towards people. The FBI considers cruelty to animals as one of its three primary indicators for criminal behaviour.

“In our view, inflicting cruelty on animals for thrills and entertainment legitimizes and encourages cruelty in society. The CRTC has ruled that cruelty to animals cannot be shown during its programming and we are going to be making presentations to ask them to phase out the broadcast of such egregious cruelty.”

“If we are to create and sustain a truly ‘humane society’ in the 21st century, we don’t need to reinvent ways to be cruel to animals. We need to put an end to them. Some people’s fascination with the “Old West” means that these animals pay a terrible and unnecessary price,” says O’Sullivan.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or via twitter at and on Facebook at:

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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