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July 05, 2019 - The Vegan Authority

Calgary Stampede starts again, a showcase of animal exploitation

Calgary Stampede starts again, a showcase of animal exploitation
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It is an event that causes distress, discomfort and risk of injury or death to the horses and other animals that are forced to participate.

Despite growing international awareness for the horrific plight of animals used for human entertainment, not to mention the billions of animals on factory farms, Canada's biggest speciesist event, The Calgary Stampede, kicks off yet again.

The 10 day long event, first held in 1912, leaves a trail of animal deaths. In fact, nearly 100 animals have been killed since the annual event began in 1986, according to research by The Vancouver Humane Society, with well over half attributed to the chuckwagon races alone." The Globe and Mail observes “the sole purpose of the chuckwagon races appears to be excitement, show and entertainment at the expense of the life of an animal.” The event prospers off of the stress and suffering of the horses. 

2005 was dubbed the darkest year for animal deaths when at least 9 horses jumped into the Bow River after becoming spooked and panicked crossing a bridge over the River as ranch hands were guiding 200 horses on a 6 day 206 km journey from the Stampede ranch to the exhibition site near Calgary's downtown.

The major draw for those attending the stampede is the rodeo and chuckwagon races. Other speciesist events, as their name reflects, include calf ropingsteer wrestling and cutting horses (where a ride and their horse must separate a cow away from the herd. 

But it is the chuckwagon races that have been the most heartbreaking for the needless deaths of dozens of horses.

In 2012, the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, three horses died during a chuckwagon race. 

In 2014, a 12 year old horse named Denny died at the Stampede in 2014 during a training chuckwagon training excercise. "The death of the horse prompted the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies to call on the Calgary Stampede to immediately end the annual chuckwagon races.

In 2015, the Calgary Herald reported that the Calgary Stampede was "not proud" of its animal safety record after a fourth horse died from injuries sustained during the chuckwagon races.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has come under criticism for not taking action in support of the animals that are forced to participate at the Stampede or at the more than 100 other rodeos held across Canada. Their policy states that they accept the use of animals in entertainment and recreation only when the animals' physical, social, and behavioral needs are being met but "opposes activities, contests, or events that have a high probability of causing injury, distress, or illness."

But the Vancouver Humane Society responds that "It is self-evident that animals in certain rodeo events are forced to perform actions that result in, at the very least, distress and discomfort. In calf-roping, the animal is chased, roped to a sudden halt, picked up and thrown to the ground before being tied up. It would be preposterous to argue that calves would not feel distress or pain as a result of such treatment. Similarly, in steer-wrestling, the animal has its neck twisted to force it to the ground."

Furthermore, humans that attend and participate in the stampede, are participants and therefor responsible for the carnage, stress and suffering that all the animals involved are forced to endure. All for their entertainment or capital gain. At the heart of these ongoing chuckwagon, calf roping events and others is the undeniable speciesist belief that animals are beneath us in some way and therefore free to use as we please. 

There is only one way to stop the carnage, stress and suffering caused for all the animals that are forced to participate in the stampede and that is to cancel it once and for all. Tradition is no excuse for this to continue.

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