I would hazard a guess that most Canadians have at least heard of The Calgary Stampede. What little kid did not imagine being a cowboy or cowgirl(if you were raised in the fifties as I was) wearing a ten gallon hat, sporting spurs, chaps, a toy gun filled holster, pretending to ride a horse, rope a cow, kill bandits, while whistling along to Roy Rogers singing “Happy Trails to You”? Sound familiar? I don’t even know if today’s kids aspire to be the lasso champion in their crowd or even if my peers are still pining after their unfulfilled childhood dreams.
What I do know is that we can all be cowboys and cowgirls for ten days a year just by buying a ticket to this inglorious rodeo. If you go you can watch any number of events involving the routine victimization of species other than humans. Heck, you can even watch it on TV compliments of the CBC. Some of the wonderful (horrific) events and competitions to which you are treated are barrel racing, calf roping, steer wrestling, goat tying, bronc riding, bull riding, wild cow milking and the chuck wagon race.
For the sake of clarity, let’s look at the description of one of these events. I choose calf roping because I have seen pictures lately of this beastly competition.
Calf roping (also called tie-down roping): In this timed event a calf is goaded (often includes tail-twisting, kicking or knocking the calf’s head against the bars; electric shock devices are sometimes used) into the arena, followed by a horse and rider. The calf, which runs at speeds averaging 27 miles per hour, is roped around the neck and jerked to a sudden stop. If the animal struggles to his feet he will be lifted up and thrown down to the ground by the rider, who then ties three of calf’s feet together.
Can you, in your wildest dreams imagine doing this to an innocent baby? Well, this is exactly what happens routinely at The Calgary Stampede and other events of its ilk. There is actually an association which oversees and sanctions this abhorrent mistreatment of non human animals. We should be greatly relieved (not) that we have the CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION to look out for the interests of all beings who are raced, roped, ridden, injured, made a spectacle of and often killed for our personal viewing entertainment and for the profit of the organizers, retailers and participants.
Here is what the CPRA has to say:
The CPRA is committed to maintaining the highest standards that ensure every CPRA-sanctioned event is managed with fairness and competence, and the livestock used is healthy and cared-for to the highest standards.
The phrase “livestock used” in reference to the animals says it all. Their sentience ignored, they are robbed of choice, freedom and respect. This is, without a doubt, appalling and completely unconscionable.
According to the Vancouver Humane Society:
Rodeo events are not covered by Canadian animal cruelty laws because historically they are considered “generally accepted practices of animal management” for the treatment of livestock….even though it is merely an entertainment.
Without the protection of current federal or provincial law, rodeo animals can only have their treatment mitigated by municipal bylaws, which can prohibit certain types of business, activities or events within their boundaries. Otherwise it is a matter of rodeo organizations voluntarily making changes to their events (usually under pressure from public opinion).
So far this year, two horses have been injured in the barbarous chuck wagon races. Subsequently they were euthanized (euphemism for killed or murdered, if you will). Fines were levied against the drivers who were deemed by the chuckwagon safety committee, to be at fault.
The VHS states on their website that:
Nearly 50 chuck wagon horses have been killed at the Calgary Stampede since 1986, mainly due to crash injuries and heart attacks brought on by stress. The considerable risk of injury and death to horses has made this event highly controversial but it remains one of the main attractions at the Stampede.
In a CTV news report, the number of animals listed as killed at this vile rode between 1986 and 2013, is in excess of 90.
*NOTE** There are literally thousands and thousands of animals used behind the scenes to perfect the “cowboys” rodeo skills. These figures do NOT include animals that were injured and/or killed for these practices.
If we don’t say no now, when will the right time be?
Write and e-mail the Stampede, CBC, and other rodeos in this nation and other countries.
Write your politicians and tell them to stop wearing cowboy hats at Stampede time. This only serves to glorify and reinforce the correctness and fun of violence towards others.
Check out SHARK and let’s get informed about this and other atrocities being perpetrated in the name of money, fun, food, clothing, education….and the list goes on.
Sign the petition at Care2 Petitions and have your voice be heard.
Annie’s Vegan View
” ….What message does rodeo give to the public, especially children? Most civilized societies rank kindness to animals amongst the highest behavioural values of humankind. From St. Francis of Assisi to Gandhi to the Dalai Lama, great moral figures have cited compassion toward animals as an essential human virtue. No one could argue that rodeo demonstrates kindness or compassion to animals. On the contrary, rodeo explicitly condones and glorifies violence and brutality toward animals.The only message that rodeo can therefore give to society is that it is acceptable to treat animals brutally. For children, this is surely an undesirable moral lesson.”
My view is that of the VHS. The moment we believe that it is our right to enslave animals for our own personal use, we open the door to all manner of abuse.
May all beings be happy and free.
6 thoughts on “The Calgary Stampede: Abject Cruelty and Death”
Thank you Anne, for a very thoughtful and comprehensive overview of the systemic cruelty being inflicted on animals each year at the Calgary Stampede; specifically in the chuck wagon races and rodeo events. Stampede officials appear to have two marketing strategies. One aimed at attracting people who mindlessly look to be entertained by “thrilling” events without a single thought of the consequences, and the other for those of us who make a lot of noise about animal rights and call for these events to be cancelled. So their marketing ranges from cranking up the excitement about the chuckwagon races on the “Half Mile of Hell” to promoting the fact that “The Stampede is passionate and vigilant about animal care.” They even have an “Animal Care Advisory Panel” … “guiding their decisions for animal policies and procedures.” This level of hypocrisy is staggering. In the end, it’s all about exploiting animals for profit. We see it everywhere. From the circus to Seaworld and Marineland to zoos and aquariums etc.
Clearly if there was no profit to be made in the Stampede’s animal events, they would have ended long ago. But profit is king and it drives not only the officials of the Stampede but the high profile of the Stampede even drives politicians looking for votes. Though the animal abuse is rampant during the events, not one federal leader would dare miss an opportunity to don a cowboy hat and gladhand for votes. This being an election year, they were all there: Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair, and Elizabeth May… falling all over themselves to hold babies and serve pancakes. With all this political support, it’s no wonder Stampede officials believe they have carte blanche to do as they wish. BUT…the good news is that support for Animal Rights is growing and we make a lot of noise. There are new groups sprouting up that deal with legal matters in regards to the rights of animals and I am confident that with continued public pressure, we will eventually succeed in shutting down these and other cruel events. I also encourage each individual to contact their local Member of Parliament and express their strong objection. Don”t underestimate the power of one!
Welcome to my website and thank you for your support.
I agree with you that the advisory board and protestations of the highest and best care for the animals used and abused at the rodeo is highly hypocritical. However, it is a defensive move, I feel. I see this as a good sign in a sense, because this highlights the fact that groups like this are nervous about our actual and potential impact.
We have news today of the powers to be at The Stampede acknowledging the problems with the chuck wagon race and promising to look into it. This would never happen if people were not protesting loudly and in main stream media. But, we will take it, as long as we can keep the pressure up as you do, commenting on social media, writing corporations, politicians…..
Politicians using any vulnerable beings to further their own agenda are acting deplorably. They need to be called on it.
I hear you about the profit line and these companies will fight tooth and nail to protect it.
I certainly agree about contacting members of parliament. It is now on my list of things to do.
Thanks for weighing in.
Once again, you have written an excellent article.
My former neighbour weighed in with comments against the Calgary Stampede on Facebook. She was hit with a stream of vile and foul language directed at her personally. People who do this clearly have a mental block and do not want to think about another point of view or even consider the possibility that the animals are suffering. I think people like this actually ENJOY the pain inflicted on the animal and live vicariously getting great pleasure from this.
Then, there is the majority who go around with “closed eyes and ears”. They don’t want to think about the animals and so they take cover behind the numbers at these events thereby evading the issues. As Karen pointed out, mainstream media and politicians condone this rodeo and support it by showing up.
John told me that he had asked a guy who lives in Calgary why he attends the Stampede. He answered by saying that he and his family do not go to see the rodeo events. They like the festive atmosphere of dressing up (as you said, playing cowboy and cowgirl) and how it brings the city together to “celebrate” the nostalgia of the good old days of the west – the hard work of the pioneers and settlers. This only makes me think of how they confiscated the lands of the natives…. no nostalgia there… just more violence and suffering but this time for humans who had no voice. Why is it that people can’t see that exploitation is exploitation be it that of humans or animals? When it happens a world away or in our backyard it is still exploitation.
Those who speak for the voiceless animals are, thankfully, growing in numbers. How can someone attend a rodeo today and not give some thought to the animals who are forced to participate and endure the cruel treatment for our viewing pleasure and entertainment? Years ago we could say we didn’t know or understand what was actually happening. Today, with social media, the Internet, protests, petitions and so on there is absolutely no excuse not to KNOW.
I just keep making the point that any event that uses animals for our entertainment is exploitation of beings that have no choice and no voice to object. In my mind, there is no difference between going to a rodeo event or to a dog fight (the latter being illegal).
Anne, keep up the great work of speaking for the voiceless.
Good to have you weigh in on this issue and glad that you liked my article. It was born out of comments made on social media by my good friend, Karen Messier. She is understandably outraged by The Calgary Stampede and by the support it receives.
I am sorry that your friend went through that. Since starting this website, I have developed a thicker skin-had to. Otherwise I would never be able to speak up. But I keep saying that there is no place for diatribe, personal attacks and invective on social media or anywhere else for that matter. When people do this, I think they are angry about something in their lives and are looking to pick a fight. I usually shrug my shoulders and leave the thread. For me, the best response is no response. But that does not mean that I am deterred in my purpose. And I agree with you, unfortunately, for thinking that abuse of power is titillating and empowering, in a sense. I think that it is a demon that many of us carry around within and something that can be vanquished. I have hope that people will see that it is not a good feeling to carry around or act upon in any circumstance.
As for The Calgary Stampede goers, I can only speculate that they want to be part of the crowd-it is easier to blend in than to stand out. We both know that, don’t we? This is where our example and words and advocacy can make a difference, I think. We have to keep pointing out why this point of view and resulting action are doing harm to the beings who are used and abused in these vile rodeos.
I too was one of the ones who did not get it. But, I do believe that if I had known earlier what really should be common sense, I would have adjusted my life at that point. It just goes to show how all the myths created by all of our death for profit industries do work.
Abuse is abuse is abuse! In the words of my father before he would punish us physically. “This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you”. I could never understand that and know for a fact this is not true. People who hurt out of ignorance or intention need to be stopped. This is why we do what we do.
Thank you, Cindy.
Thank you so much for putting the abuse these rodeos cause in the public’s view. I post on Face Book over and over again, asking sponsors and others to go to Shark Online.org to see the videos of the abuse. I really don’t think a lot of people believe what goes on with these animals. All of these so called cowboys are just thugs that have no other way of making a living except to beat up on these animals. A lot of them don’t even know how to ride properly. Please keep your column up!
Welcome to my website and thank you for your advocacy for all the beings trapped in the confines of rodeos worldwide. I think that many people just don’t know and some who do know do not want to acknowledge the cruelty for reasons of their own. But, in the short time I have been advocating and using social media to shine a light on non human animal abuse, I have noticed a shift in thinking as well as an increase in the amount of information out there. I think that it is important to keep getting the message out there and that is why we do what we do.
Take care and hope to have more of your insightful comments.