As It Happens

UPDATED: Vancouver Humane Society petitions CBC not to cover 'cruel' Calgary Stampede

The Vancouver Humane society has launched a petition urging CBC Sports to stop covering the Calgary Stampede. "As Canada's national broadcaster, the CBC should not be portraying an activity that is cruel to animals as a sport," says Peter Fricker, the society's Communications Director.
Tuf Cooper, from Decatur, Texas, ropes a steer during finals rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede on July 13, 2014. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The Vancouver Humane society has launched a petition urging CBC Sports to stop covering what it calls the "rodeo cruelty" of the Calgary Stampede.

"As Canada's national broadcaster, the CBC should not be portraying an activity that is cruel to animals as a sport," says Peter Fricker, the society's communications director. "It's very clear that the animals used at the Calgary Stampede rodeo are subject to fear, pain and stress. It's self-evidently inhumane."

Fricker says that if the CBC were to end its coverage it "would be a major signal to the Stampede and to the Canadian public that this is no longer an acceptable form of entertainment." As of Thursday, the petition had just over 4,000 signatures.

Sportsnet One (owned by Rogers Media) is also providing coverage of the event.

A calf is caught by the neck with a rope during a calf-roping rodeo event. (Jo-Anne McArthur)

Trevor Pilling, head of programming for CBC Sports, maintains that the Stampede's organizers are committed to the highest standards of animal care. Fricker says his main concern is with the calf roping event. "This is involving a young animal, 3 to 4 months old, being chased across an arena, roped to a sudden halt, then picked up, thrown to the ground and tied up. It's very clear that the animal has to be experiencing pain, fear and stress." 

Fricker says that the Vancouver Humane Society has heard from camera operators employed by the CBC who were instructed not to film the moment when the calf comes to the end of its rope.

In an earlier statement, CBC Sports says that it "will follow an event from start to finish and make quick in-the-moment decisions as necessary, as we do with all live sports coverage."


As It Happens requested an interview with Pilling. On Wednesday, we were told he is not available this week for an interview. He provided this response to our question about camera operators and calf roping: "Regarding our coverage and camera assignments, CBC covers rodeo to the same industry standards that all broadcasters who cover rodeo do."

UPDATE (07/15):

As of July 13th, four horses have died at this year's Calgary Stampede.

"The horse's injury was virtually the same as that of another outrider horse on July 11," said Stampede officials in a  release. "Suspensory ligament rupture is most commonly seen in race horses and occasionally seen in other types of sport horses."

Two other horses were euthanized following separate chuckwagon racing incidents earlier in the week. 

A horse belonging to chuckwagon driver Layne Bremner suffered a broken leg during the sixth heat of the Rangeland Derby on July 4, while a crash last Monday left one of driver B.J. Carey's horses with a serious injury to a joint above its hoof. 

You can read more here


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