The Vancouver Humane Society's ad campaign to ban calf roping at the Calgary Stampede is getting the cold shoulder from the Alberta city's two major newspapers and a sister animal welfare group.
"We think the calf roping is one of the cruelest of rodeo events," said Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society on Monday. "We felt that there wasn't any other major animal protection group taking on that issue at the stampede."
The group created an ad called "Bully versus baby," depicting a cowboy trying to tie a rope around a calf that has been lassoed and is being pulled to the ground.
The message underneath reads: "It's a basic human instinct to protect the young. And not just our own. Whether it's puppies, kittens, cubs or calves, their vulnerability speaks to us all. Well, some of us."
"Each year rodeos subject three-month-old calves to fear, pain and stress — all in the name of entertainment. No way to treat a baby. It's time to ban calf roping."
The ad highlights a deep divide in approach between the Calgary and Vancouver humane societies.
Rodeo events at the stampede are monitored by the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as the Calgary Humane Society, which was not contacted by its Vancouver counterparts about the ad campaign.
"We've chosen to work with those organizations that do use animals to ensure that the stress that the animals do endure is minimized," said Pamela Amos, a spokeswoman with the Calgary Humane Society.
"We are a sheltering organization, not an activist organization."
Amos said the Calgary Humane Society is against entertainment involving animals that kills them or puts them in pain or stress — which is what the Vancouver Humane Society argues calf roping does.
"We think that as a humane society they should really stand up to the plate and make their views known on what they think about rodeo and how they feel about calf roping," said Fricker.
2 newspapers refuse to run ad
The Vancouver group successfully lobbied the Cloverdale Rodeo in B.C. to drop all of its roping events.
But the Stampede has no intention of dropping the popular calf-roping competition.
"We care passionately about animal safety here at the Stampede and we will continue to do so as we have for almost 100 years," said Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser. Both the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun newspapers refused to run the Vancouver Humane Society's ads about calf roping, even after the society removed references to the Calgary Stampede.
"As stated in our advertising kit, the Calgary Herald reserves the right to edit, revise or reject any advertisements — we chose not to run the ad in question," Siobhan Vinish, the Herald's vice-president of marketing and audience development, said in an email.
Calgary Sun publisher Gordon Norrie said the ad is in "bad taste" and that the Vancouver Humane Society is "out of its jurisdiction."
The ads will run in Fast Forward Weekly.