VANCOUVER, JULY 21 2002 - "In our view, rodeos are nothing more than a brutal violent spectacle. They pit people and animals against one another in open conflict that can result in the deaths of animals and people," said Al Hickey, Western Regional Director of The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). "This year’s Calgary Stampede was no exception: five horses had be to destroyed after a collision during the chuckwagon event, a sixth died of an apparent heart attack, one horse remains under medical observation, and a calf was killed during the calf roping event. These kinds of events which involve a race against time for money, are an accident looking for a place to happen," he said.


The Humane Society of Canada has also written to Diane Rheaume, Secretary General of the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission) asking them to stop the broadcast of these cruel spectacles by enforcing the provisions of Article 9 of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’s (CBSC) Codes prohibiting violence against animals. The charity believes that this is one of the best ways to cut off the revenues that are the driving force behind these events.


"For the past 30 years, I have worked extensively with horses and livestock here in Canada and in over 85 different countries. My father was a farmer, and I also hold a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. Having inspected rodeos here in Canada and in other countries, I can assure you without qualification, that rodeo events bear no relationship whatsoever with modern day accepted livestock handling practices. Any real cowboy that treated an animal this way would be fired in a heartbeat," said Michael O’Sullivan, HSC Executive Director.

"People's fascination with the Old West means these animals pay a terrible and unnecessary price," said O’Sullivan.

In this year's Kondike Days Rodeo, currently being held in Edmonton's Northlands Park, one horse dided follwoing a collsion in the chuckwagon event. This event has resulted in the death of 5 horses in the last five years. Last year’s Calgary Stampede resulted in a horse breaking its shoulder in the chuckwagon event, and a calf’s leg being broken the roping event. Both animals were euthanized. In 2000, two horses died following the chuckwagon event. 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 2000 people. In the Calgary Stampede that same year, two horses died in a crash during the chuck-wagon race. In the 1997 Calgary Stampede, 3 horses were severely injured, one of whom later died. In addition, 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, four chuckwagon horses were killed, one dying of a heart attack, two had to be euthanized, the fourth horse broke both its neck and leg. In 1995, one horse in the bronco event died due to head injuries, another two died after breaking their legs, in each of the bronco event and the chuckwagon race, 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 4 horses (two in chuckwagon events and two in bronco events), broken legs led to the euthanasia of one steer and 3 calves. In 1989, two calves were killed after breaking legs in the calf-roping event. In 1987, two chuckwagon horses, a calf and a steer died. One of the horses collapsed after having a hear attack, the other animals had to be euthanized after breaking legs. Finally, in 1986, one of the highest death count occurred during a chuckwagon crash that ended the lives of 9 horses.

People are also injured in these events. On Sunday, a man was injured and sent to hospital after a chuckwagon event at the Klondike Days Rodeo held in Edmonton. In the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, 2001 a man was put into a coma after being trampled by the bull that he was riding. In the Medicine Hat Stampede, 2000, a man was killed in the same event. In 1999, the Calgary Stampede resulted in the death of three people, and in 1995, two more men were killed.

"What rancher would stand still while one of his employees roped a calf, and then jerked the animal to a sudden stop while it was traveling at speeds as high as 40 km/hr? Of what practical use is bull riding? Except to demonstrate that the cowboy has even less sense than the bull?" asked O'Sullivan.

In 'bronco busting', the rider sits astride a frightened horse with the object of terrifying and breaking the animal. "I defy you to name a single reputable breeder or horse owner who would sanction such an act of insanity," said O'Sullivan.

Rodeo operators also tell the public that the animals are only subjected to about 30 seconds of pain or suffering or terror. However, O'Sullivan says that this is simply a bare faced lie, because rodeo cowboys practice with these animals hundreds of times, over and over again, before the cowboys are ready to participate in open competitions for prize money.

According to one steer roper, in these practice sessions one person can cripple three to four animals in an afternoon. Owners also brag about how many livestock they have saved from going to the slaughterhouse. "I've never seen the Rodeo Animal Retirement Home? Have you?" he asked. Then there's the one about how the cowboys all love their animals, and how the animals are worth a lot of money. "Do they think people are so stupid that they've never heard of insurance policies?" he asked.

In our view this is cruelty, purely and simply to satisfy their own needs and those of a thrill seeking audience," said O’Sullivan. "If rodeo cowboys want to risk life and limb, well that’s their decision. We don’t believe they have the right to put animals in harm’s way".

However, the biggest lie of all is that by allowing rodeos to police themselves this simply makes everything all right. "We don't need to regulate cruelty for the sake of entertainment. We need to abolish it," said O'Sullivan.

"As we move into the dawn of a new Millennium, we don't need to reinvent ways to be cruel to animals. We need to put an end to them," he concluded.

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

[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.]

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