The Calgary Stampede has always been a topic of controversy, with activists to the likes of Bob Barker attempting to have it shut down for animal cruelty and others working hard to keep the fair alive as it reaches its 100th birthday this season.
The rodeo events at the Stampede sell out each year, but concerns over animal welfare continue to become more prevalent and were magnified in 2010 after six horses died.
In 2011, the Stampede adopted new rules for the rodeo events and chuck wagon races to try to provide more protection for both human and animal participants. All of the horses are now expected to be inspected by veterinarians when arriving at the stampede as well as before and after each event. A mandatory rest day was put in place after every four continuous days of racing and several new rules were applied to the chuck wagon races.
I consider myself an animal person, and have never enjoyed violence in any way. I am vocal about my opinion on topics such as dog fighting and the inhumane ways of slaughtering animals for fur. I am also a vegetarian, but I still support keeping the Calgary Stampede alive.
Sure there are several things that are wrong about the procedures within the event, but from what I can see, it is improving every year. I don’t know where people get the idea that everything can all be fixed in one day, but that is just not possible. It is going to take years for the Stampede to fix their animal rights problems, and once they do, they will probably find new ones they must deal with.
This does not make the participants bad people. The majority of cowboys out there love their animals more than anything. Many of the participants baby their horses like they would a pet dog, and even respect their animal athlete’s abilities. The majority are also doing rodeo events professionally and pretty aware of how to handle the cattle.
In addition to this, the Calgary Humane Society is on hand each day supervising the animal care and is present during each accident to evaluate the situation. The Stampede isn’t hiding the accidents or the treatment; they keep their doors wide open for the public and Humane Society to see.
The event is a huge money maker for the city of Calgary as well as the rest of Canada, by attracting several thousands of tourists to our country. It isn’t only a rodeo, but a whole 10-day party, full of live entertainment and making new friends.
I have never been to the Stampede, but I am definitely not against it.