Edmonton

PETA activists protest at legislature following Stampede horse deaths

About 20 people, some wearing cardboard horseface masks, protested at the Alberta legislature against Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races.

Despite ongoing safety upgrades and checks at Stampede, animals are still dying, PETA says

About 20 people protested against chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede after six horses were killed this year. (Genevieve Tardif/CBC)

About 20 people, some wearing cardboard horseface masks, protested at the Alberta legislature against Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races.

They held up signs urging the races be scrapped, stating that animals do not exist for the entertainment of humans.

Amanda Brody, speaking for the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says the chuckwagon races are cruel and inhumane and the animals can't be kept safe.

The Calgary Stampede is reviewing safety rules after six horses died in racing at this year's Stampede, the most deaths in almost a decade.

Brody says despite ongoing safety upgrades and checks at the Stampede, the animals are still dying and that it's time to shut down the event altogether.

Premier Jason Kenney's office declined comment, but Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen issued a statement.

He says the UCP government remains committed to the protection of animals and will continue to work with organizations to improve practices and procedures. 

The national animal welfare legal advocacy group Animal Justice has also renewed its calls for an end to chuckwagon races.

The agency wants a police investigation into illegal animal cruelty, suggesting that rodeo events should not be exempt from Alberta's animal cruelty laws.

The 2019 Calgary Stampede was the second deadliest year for chuckwagon horses in more than three decades, with six horses dying over the 10-day event that ended Sunday.

That brings the total number of animals that have died during the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Stampede since 1986 to 102.

This year's event ties with 2010 as having the second-highest toll on chuckwagon horses. The worst year was 1986 when 12 horses died. 

Chuckwagon horses make up more than two-thirds of the animal deaths at the Stampede.

The Calgary Stampede has launched a safety review and officials have said many changes have been made over the years to increase the safety of animals and humans during rodeo events.

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