Monday, July 5, 2010

Progress on the Anti-Rodeo Front

Today's Calgary Herald reversed a longtime policy of refusing to run advertisements critical of the famous Calgary Stampede. For those of you who aren't aware of the Stampede, it is a huge event held each July in Calgary, Alberta - ten days of rodeos, exhibitions, games, chuckwagon races, rides and so forth. It is the biggest rodeo in the world and draws a million visitors to the province each year. The Stampede dates back to 1886.

And this is the first time in the long history of the Stampede that Calgary's main newspaper, the Herald - founded in 1883 - has allowed the publication of an advertisement taking aim at the Stampede. The $15,000 ad, pictured below, was taken out by the Vancouver Humane Society in today's Herald.

Interestingly, the advertisement shoes calf roping, but does not specifically mention the Calgary Stampede. The ad has caused some controversy. The Calgary Humane Society has taken a strong welfarist position and attacked the Vancouver Humane Society for its emphasis on "animal rights." As the Calgary Humane Society (CHS) notes in its Stampede press kit:
While other organizations may wish to intervene through protest, or other means, CHS has found it can best protect the interests of the animals involved by working with organizations that put on such events. (Source)
But there is no getting around the fact that rodeos brutalize animals. I've been to several rodeos (having grown up in the western United States). I've seen what these animals go through. Welfarists who are apologists for rodeos such as this one can talk all they want about emphasizing the well-being of the animals. And when you get right down to it, rodeos aren't as gruesome and gory as bull fights (which set the bar incredibly low when it comes to the treatment of animals). But make no mistake about it: Rodeos are still a form of extreme animal exploitation.

I'm a lifelong Westerner, born in Calgary. I know why people love rodeos. They can be very exciting events, where families and friends get together and have a good time. And I hate it when some elitists try to write off rodeo fans as rednecks. That's a crock. I don't buy it for an instant. Yet it is impossible to deny that animals are treated very roughly at rodeos. We would be a lot better off if the rodeo had never been invented, and if the good people who attend them could achieve a sense of community and camaraderie by some other means.


  1. It's a part of nature !! Lions eat other animals and chase them down and eat them! We arnt eating them were just rough housing with them!!! We're animals too so we gotta play with other ones just as others do too!!!

  2. Rodeos – Some People Call This Sport!

    Imagine this: In another world where the animals ruled, they select a certain type of human with a special characteristic we would call epilepsy. The animals would use these epileptic humans to entertain themselves in a show called a rodeo.

    The animals had figured out a way of inducing a violent physical reaction, to certain stimuli, in the epileptic. Once the ‘right’ buttons on the epileptic were pushed, they would buck, jump, writhe, contort, thrash around and inflict wounds and injury upon themselves for a period of time.

    This was all done for the entertainment of the animals. They even developed a competition based on the ‘quality’ of the thrashing display of the epileptic. A horrible thought really.

    Making a horse (or bull) buck for our entertainment is like inducing an epileptic friend to have a seizure so we can watch, be entertained and have a laugh. According to my doctor, when an epileptic experiences an epileptic seizure, he or she expends a huge amount of energy and physical effort for a relatively short period of time. Post seizure they are totally exhausted. They need a period of deep rest for recovery. Compare this scenario with a horse or bull that is made to buck.

    And then there is calf roping. Here's where the real men get their jollies off. First they chase a very young calf flat out across the arena, then they hurl a rope at it and jerk it off its feet (a very real jerk on both ends of the rope), they then wrap the rope around its baby hooves to disable it whether it is conscious, injured or not. A definite contest of skill, judgement and absolute cruelty. The injuries often inflicted upon the calves are horrendous.

    Some people call rodeos sport. The reality is that participants, spectators and sponsors are complicit in animal cruelty that makes the roughest Indonesian abattoir look like a picnic on the beach.

    Perhaps, what is known as ‘judgement day’ is when we humans reflect upon and take full responsibility for each and every one of our actions in this lifetime.

  3. Aucune torture ne peut être excusée, quelle qu'elle soit et ce qui est présenté lors d'un rodéo n'a rien à voir avec ce qui se passe dans la nature : le lion ne sangle pas sa proie pour la voir courir plus vite, il ne lui met pas de décharges électriques non plus...

    Ne mélangeons pas tout !