Despite the heavy flooding in Alberta threatening the Calgary Stampede this year, it looks like the show will go on — as will the opposition to cruel rodeo events.
This year, animal advocates are back protesting events that cause stress and physical harm to animals purely for the sake of entertainment. The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is focused on calf roping, or tie-down roping, this year, taking a full page ad out that highlights the stark contrast between humane treatment and unnecessary torture of calves.
Peter Fricker, the projects and communications director for VHS, wrote an article for the Vancouver Sun calling calf roping a “sadistic sport” and asks readers to imagine another animal in a calf’s place:
Imagine a primate, say a chimpanzee, being chased into an arena. A rope is thrown around his neck, jerking him to a sudden halt and pulling him off his feet. A man then picks the chimp up, throws him hard to the ground and ties him up. A big crowd cheers and the sport of chimp roping is born.
It will never happen, of course. Why not? Because it would be cruel and because Canadians are a civilized people. They just wouldn’t stand for it.
Yet Canadians stand for such cruelty every year when three-month-old calves are treated exactly the same way at the Calgary Stampede and other rodeos.
Rodeo supporters continue to argue that calf roping events are a ranching activity that’s part of our agricultural heritage, and that they take strides to ensure the safety of the animals who are used . Besides, they’re just livestock in a pre-burger state.
When it comes to calf-roping, as the Calgary Stampede puts it, “Tie-down roping is the most technical event in rodeo. It requires a unique partnership with a working horse and excellent hand eye coordination on the part of the cowboy.”
VHS describes calf-roping a little differently: “The event starts with the calf contained in a steel-barred ‘chute’ at the side of the arena. The calf is goaded, prodded and often has its tail twisted to ensure it will burst out of the chute at full speed (up to 27 miles per hour). The terrified calf is then chased by a mounted rider who must lasso the calf, jump off his horse, pick up the calf, slam it to the ground and tie three of its feet together. The event is timed and the rider who does it fastest wins.”
Calves are sometimes injured and killed, which isn’t really surprising considering they clotheslined going full speed before being violently thrown to the ground and tied up.
The Stampede, however, calls this a “well choreographed ballet.”
Someone should tell these guys they forgot their tutus and pointe shoes…
They say ballet, animal lovers say blatant animal cruelty.
Some take issue with outsiders offering opinions on how things should be done at the Stampede, but as the Calgary Herald points out, its just as easily argued that, because the Stampede is marketed around the world as a major rodeo event, how they do things is everyone’s business.
VHS is now urging the Calgary Stampede to drop calf-roping from its roster of events, as it successfully did with the Cloverdale Rodeo in British Columbia. Although it took years of campaigning, Fricker said he remains optimistic that the same could be accomplished at the Stampede. The group also notes that Cloverdale continued to draw record crowds following the move in 2007.
“A ban on calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede would be a sign that Canada celebrates compassion, not the heartless abuse of animals for the sake of human amusement. It’s something Canadians could take pride in. It’s something we should stand up for because, after all, aren’t we a civilized people?” wrote Fricker.
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