A video that the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) said shows “stressed and frightened animals being roughly handled” at rodeos in Langley and Chilliwack drew criticism from organizers of the events, who said the footage showed eagerness, not fear, on the part of the animals seen in the clips, released on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
A VHS press release pointed to clips showing animals “thrashing around” in the chutes prior to being released into the rodeo arena, and of “handlers pulling on the ears and tails of a number of animals.”
Society spokesperson Emily Pickett said the footage contradicts claims by rodeo supporters that the animals love to perform.
“This footage, once again, proves otherwise,” Pickett commented. “If the animals love to perform, why is it necessary to twist their ears, drag them by their tails, and fasten uncomfortable straps around their sensitive underbelly to make them do so?”
Pickett added the events “put animals at risk of injury and death, all for the sake of public entertainment.”
Organizers of the Langley and Chilliwack rodeos said it was stretching things to say animals were being harmed, or frightened.
Held in early September, the Valley West Stampede was hosted at the Langley Riders Association (LRA) grounds in Brookswood.
LRA president Paul Ritchot said no animals or people were injured during the three-day event.
“They are not being harmed in any way,” Ritchot told the Langley Advance Times.
“It’s like any sport. We treat the animals as athletes. They’re extremely well looked after.”
LRA treasurer John Scotton said a longer version of a VHS clip showing a bull falling to its knees, would show the animal got dizzy after “spinning around and around” to shake its rider off.
Valley West Stampede board member Shannon Claypool said they invited the B.C. SPCA to visit the Langley event, but their contact person with the animal protection agency contact declined, saying they wouldn’t attend unless there was a complaint.
Claypool said no animals or humans were injured at the Langley event.
“We had a veterinarian on site during all rodeo performances — and an ambulance [for the cowboys].”
Chilliwack Rodeo Association president Len Blackstock said seeing a horse or bull trying to climb out of a chute doesn’t mean they are frightened, it means they are impatient.
“They’re bred to do that, they’re anticipating [getting in the arena],” Blackstock commented.
Blackstock said the animals are “well-looked-after, they’re well-fed.”
As for injuries at the Chilliwack rodeo held over three days in August, “we had a couple bumps and bruises on the guys, but no animals were injured” he said.
The VHS has been calling on organizers for both rodeos and local city councils to remove what they term inhumane rodeo events, including roping, bucking, wrestling and mutton busting, from event programs.
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