In a few weeks time, on July 6, animals will once again be suffering at the hands of the Calgary Stampede. And once again, we will be calling on all civilized, compassionate Canadians to oppose this spectacle of animal abuse.
Some people wonder why the Vancouver Humane Society, a small animal charity on the West Coast, picks on the Calgary Stampede, a so-called national icon and self-described “greatest outdoor show on earth.”
The simple answer is this: The Stampede subjects animals to fear, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment and that’s immoral.
To be clear, VHS only objects to the Stampede rodeo. We have no issue with the other activities that make up the bulk of the Stampede. If people want to dress up as cowboys and party, that’s fine with us. We just want to stop animals from suffering.
The Stampede will say that rodeo animals don’t suffer. Can they really believe that a three-month-old calf doesn’t feel fear when it is goaded out of a chute and chased into the arena? Can they really believe that the calf doesn’t feel pain when, at 27 miles per hour, it is roped to a jarring halt, then picked up and thrown to the ground? Imagine this being done to your dog.
Some people who defend rodeo say, well, the pain is only inflicted for a short time, so what’s the big deal. Okay, imagine that a reality television program featured kittens or puppies receiving a mild electric shock for just a few seconds. No one would stand for it. There would be a public outcry. Why? Because the idea of subjecting animals to abuse for the sake of entertainment would be considered barbaric, unconscionable and unacceptable. Yet we accept it in rodeo, where crowds of people actually applaud as they watch animals experience pain.
Oh, but rodeo is different. It’s about tradition and agricultural heritage and what happens on the ranch. Really? The truth is that real working cowboys never rode bulls, wrestled steers or raced chuckwagons. And the calf-roping event is a cruel travesty of the range practice. “That’s not the way it’s done on the ranch. On the ranch it’s done quietly and calmly, not like at the rodeo,” says renowned animal behaviourist, Temple Grandin.
Even if rodeo events were a genuine part of Canadian heritage, would that justify cruelty to animals? In London, one of the last bear-baiting pits, situated a few paces from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, was closed down in 1642. While the Globe has been rebuilt, nothing remains of the bear pit. There are some parts of our heritage we should retain and be proud of and there are others we should consign to the dustbin of history. That’s where traditions of animal cruelty belong.
The Stampede is marking its 100th anniversary. A century of unnecessary animal suffering. If you believe in a future without such suffering, please speak out against rodeo. If you believe in a civilized compassionate Canada, please join our campaign. We’re going to take a stand against animal cruelty at the Calgary Stampede. Please stand with us.
Watch this space.
More info on the Calgary Stampede rodeo.