Cross-posted from the Globe and Mail
by CAMILLE LABCHUK
Camille Labchuk is an animal-rights lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice Canada
THERE’S little doubt that using animals for entertainment is rapidly becoming unacceptable. Shifting public perceptions first forced Ringling Brothers to retire elephants from circuses, and soon after compelled SeaWorld to end its orca shows.
The fleeting entertainment we may experience at seeing animals perform tricks isn’t worth forcing them to endure suffering, and even death. I predict that rodeo events will be the next spectacle of suffering to become socially unacceptable.
The Calgary Stampede has become synonymous with the trauma and violence of rodeo events. Starting this weekend, rodeo competitors will face off in nine separate event categories, including calf roping, steer wrestling, bronco riding, and chuckwagon racing.
The details vary, but all rodeo events have a few common threads: Animals are goaded into running and bucking through fear and physical pain, they are often lassoed, wrestled or roped to the ground, and the unwilling animal participants experience significant suffering, injuries, and sometimes death.
Chuckwagon racing is by far the most deadly spectacle for animals, with multiple horses killed in the event nearly every year. In fact, more than half of the 94 animals killed in the Stampede since 1986 were horses forced to compete in chuckwagon races.
Alberta law prohibits causing distress to an animal, and there’s little question that steers wrestled to the ground, baby calves who are brutally roped around the neck, and the horses who predictably die in chuckwagon races experience distress.