July 3, 2009, VANCOUVER – The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) says that rodeos are nothing more than a brutal violent spectacle that harms animals for the sake of entertainment. They pit people and animals against one another in open conflict to provide bored city dwellers with cheap thrills, says The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). And the organization levels the harshest criticism of all at those who pay to witness such cruelty.
“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 Al Hickey, the animal charity’s Western Regional Director.
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 3-12.
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.
This year already three horses and a steer have died at the Calgary Stampede. The first, a thirteen-year-old horse, died of a heart attack following a chuckwagon event on July 5th. The second, a seven-year-old horse, was euthanized after breaking its leg and collapsed during the chuckwagon event on July 7th. The steer had to be euthanized after suffering a severe spinal injury during the steer-wrestling event on July 8th. The third horse reportedly died of an apparent heart attack on Friday, July 10th following a chuckwagon event.
Earlier this year, four horses were killed at the Grand Prairie Stompede during the chuckwagon event. In the 2008 Calgary Stampede, one horse was euthanized following a collision in the chuckwagon event. More background on animals killed at other rodeo events can be found below.
“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.
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:
- Develop creative engaging campaigns to encourage people to stop paying the price of an admission ticket;
- Asking people to stop spending their hard earned money to buy goods and services from ad agencies and their companies which promote rodeos;
- 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’;
- Work with any municipalities that want to pass local bylaws to prohibit rodeo events;
- 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 at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.
A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]
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.
The only organization of its kind, seven days a week, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works across the street, across Canada and around the world helping people, animals and the environment.The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) depends entirely on donations to support our programs to help animals and the environment. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. If you would like to support our educational campaigns that protect animals and the environment please make a donation here. Because when it comes to fighting cruelty and violence, we don’t give up. Ever.
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.
- Rather than being a ‘Canadian tradition”, the Calgary Stampede was created and organized in 1912 by American, Guy Weadick after his dream of what the Wild West should be. Mr Weadick managed and maintained a connection with the Calgary Stampede for a number of years
- This year already three horses and a steer have died at the Calgary Stampede. The first, a thirteen-year-old horse, died of a heart attack following a chuckwagon event on July 5th. The second, a seven-year-old horse, was euthanized after breaking its leg and collapsed during the chuckwagon event on July 7th. The steer had to be euthanized after suffering a severe spinal injury during the steer-wrestling event on July 8th. The third horse reportedly died of an apparent heart attack on Friday, July 10th following a chuckwagon event.
- Earlier this year, four horses were killed at the Grand Prairie Stompede during the chuckwagon event.
- In the 2008 Calgary Stampede, one horse was euthanized following a collision in the Chuckwagon event
- In the 2008 Chuckwagon event at the Saskatoon Marquis Downs, eight horses where euthanized during the four-day event
- The Cloverdale Rodeo announced in May 2007 that it would no longer be holding tie-down roping, team roping, cowboy cow milking and steer wrestling events following a tragic incident that resulted in a calf being euthanized
- Three horses were killed in a collision which occurred during the Calgary Stampede’s Rangeland Derby on July 14th, 2007, drawing strong criticism from The Humane Society of Canada who says the deaths could have been prevented. One horse died after its broken pelvis severed an artery, a second had to be euthanized at the track due to a leg fracture and the third horse was euthanized later that night due to injuries. There are reports that another rider had to euthanize on of his horses earlier in the event due to a leg injury, however, only after the horse managed to finish the race. A fifth horse reportedly fell later in the event after it became entangled in equipment, however, luckily it was not injured. These kinds of events which involve a race against time for money are an accident looking for a place to happen
- In 2006, one horse suffered a heart attack, a second a leg fracture following a collision in the Chuckwagon event, both horses had to be euthanized – one of which was owned by a rider who was again penalized for the Rangeland Derby Chuckwagon crash in 2007
- In 2005, the Calgary Stampede’s Trail ride resulted in the deaths of nine horses. The horses were spooked and fell 10 metres from a bridge into the fast moving Bow River southeast of Calgary, a tenth horse went missing and was presumed dead. Ranch hands had reportedly been guiding about 200 rodeo horses on a six day, 206 km journey from the Stampede ranch near Hanna, Alberta to the exhibition site near downtown Calgary. The event, Trail Ride 2005, was organized to commemorate the province’s centennial. In an unrelated event, an eleventh horse died suddenly during the opening weekend. According to police reports, a further 30 horses were injured
- Under a Freedom of Information Request, The Humane Society of Canada obtained a copy of the police report of Trail Ride 2005 which investigated the deaths of the ten horses, and said that the report found here was “less complete than one you’d fill out for a stolen bicycle”
- The Calgary Stampede review committee report on this tragedy has recommended against any future trail rides in the same manner, but refused to rule out the possibility of a ride at some later date. They also choose not to share a copy of their report with the public
- Four horses are killed following an accident at the Edmonton Klondike Chuckwagon Derby in 2004
- A horse was killed at the 2004 Calgary Stampede following an injury that resulted in a broken leg; at the same Stampede, a bull named Outlaw was euthanized after internal trauma following a fight with another bull
- Before that an 18-month-old steer was killed when his neck was broken at the Cloverdale Rodeo in 2004
- In 2002, six horses had to be euthanized after they were involved in a chuckwagon crash at the Calgary Stampede; a calf is euthanized after its leg is broken in the Stampede’s calf roping event
- In Edmonton, a collision in the chuckwagon event in 2002 results in the death of a horse
- In the 2001 Calgary Stampede, a calf was euthanized after its leg is broken during a calf roping event
- In 1999, four horses were killed during the Calgary Stampede
- In 1999, in the CAN-AM Rodeo in Ottawa, a bucking horse slammed into a fence breaking her neck and dying before the crowd of 6000 people. In the Calgary Stampede that same year, three horses died in a crash during the chuckwagon race
- Also in 1999 a horse is euthanized after breaking its leg in an Edmonton rodeo
- In the 1997 Calgary Stampede, three horses were severely injured, two of whom died later. In addition to these accidents, in the bull-riding event, one bull’s leg became wedged in the chute gate; the bull was injured so badly it had to be put down
- In 1996, three horses were killed
- In 1995, three horses were killed in various rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede
- In 1995, one horse died due to head injuries, another two died after breaking their legs, a third was knocked down and sustained a shoulder injury, and a fourth horse collapsed
- The Calgary Stampedes of 1990, 1992 and 1994 resulted in the combined death of four horses and a steer
- In 1986, six horses were killed in a chuckwagon crash, and before then end of that years’ Stampede, another six horses were euthanized
- Back in 1986, another eight horses were killed at the Calgary Stampede
People are also injured in these events
- A director of the Cloverdale Rodeo was seriously hurt when he was hit by a bull
- In the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, 2001, a man was put into a coma after being trampled by the bull that was he was riding
- A rider was killed in the Medicine Hat Stampede in 2000
- Three people, including Bill McEwen, were killed in the 1999 Calgary Stampede
- Eugene Jackson died of head injuries during a chuckwagon event at the 1996 Calgary Stampede
- Previously two deaths occurred at the 1995 Calgary Stampede as well as one each at the 1971 & 1960 Calgary Stampede