Humane society alleges cattle shocked by electric prods at B.C. rodeo
'In our view it's pretty clear the animal is being shocked just to make it perform,' says animal rights worker
A Vancouver-based animal rights group claims that electric prods were used to shock cattle into performing at the Quesnel Rodeo after sending a photographer to the event earlier this month.
The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) released photos of a man holding what appears to be an electric prod during the bull-riding event at the city's annual rodeo. Photos of a similar incident at the Chilliwack Fair rodeo were released last year.
The use of rods in riding events is prohibited by the B.C. Rodeo Association — the province's primary rodeo-governing body.
"Our concern is that these electric prods are being used on animals, perhaps routinely in rodeos in B.C. and across Canada, which is concerning because, it's just cruelty," said Peter Fricker, a Vancouver Humane Society spokesperson.
"In our view, it's pretty clear the animal is being shocked just to make it perform," Fricker said.
CBC News reached out to the man believed to be depicted in both sets of photos, but did not receive a response.
The B.C. Rodeo Association said it is aware of the alleged incident and does not condone the use of electric cattle prods.
"This matter will be dealt with according to the rules and regulations set out by the British Columbia Rodeo Association.," said president Gord Puhallo in an e-mailed statement to CBC News.
Those regulations include fines up to $250 that can be imposed on contractors who violate the rules.
Quesnel Rodeo president Ray Jasper declined to comment on the alleged incident.
Electric cattle prods
The electric prod shown in the photos appears to be a device known as a "Hot-Shot," which can generate 4,500 volts, according to the Vancouver Humane Society.
Under the B.C. Rodeo Association's 2019 rules, contestants can be disqualified for the mistreatment of any livestock, including misuse of electric prods.
According to the National Farm Animal Care Council's code of practice — voluntary guidelines for handling farm animals — electric prods can be used only to help move cattle when animal or human safety is at risk or, "as a last resort when all other humane alternatives have failed and only when cattle have a clear path to move."
The B.C. Rodeo Association's rule book states prods can only be used in extreme circumstances, with approval from both the contest and and the contractor.
CBC News reached out to several rodeo officials who would not comment officially but questioned the validity of the photos released by the Vancouver Humane Society.
The humane society has called for the cancellations of bull riding events in the past. It actively campaigns against events like rodeos, dog sledding, and circuses with exotic or wild animals.