FRIDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — There’s nothing like a regurgitated debate on abortion, gun control or rodeos to stir people up.
The B.C. Green Party wants a provincewide ban on rodeos. This has raised the ire of rodeo people, who are once again assuring us that animals used in rodeos are well-cared for.
Ernie and Linda Dobson, organizers of the Ashroft Rodeo, told CBC’s Radio West rodeo events are pretty much like life on the ranch, and city folk don’t get it. “We all drive pickup trucks up here and rodeo is part of your Western Interior ranching country,” said Linda. “They (rodeo animals) have a pretty happy life, actually.”
Ernie said ranch horses work hard for hours at a time, compared to the eight or so seconds spent in a ring by a rodeo bronc. He said calves have to be roped to be doctored on the ranch.
But the Humane Society and B.C. SPCA disagree. Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society applauds the Green Party’s position, pointing out that the Cloverdale Rodeo has eliminated four events based on animal welfare.
“We think it’s a sign of the times, that it’s obviously a change of public attitudes, at least in B.C.,” Fricker told the Victoria Times Colonist.
He contends rodeo events bear little resemblance to what goes on at a ranch. There’s no steer wrestling in ranch life, and calf roping isn’t based on speed there, which in rodeos can result in stress, fear and pain to the animal as it gets violently jerked around.
The B.C. SPCA says events such as calf roping and steer wrestling impose “an unacceptably high risk of injury” to rodeo animals and “the potential for pain and fear experienced by the animals for the purpose of entertainment is unjustified.”
It says the worst injuries happen to young animals in roping and wrestling events. “Every year, hundreds of animals suffer sprains and bruises, broken limbs and broken necks. Sadly each year there are animal deaths attributed to rodeos as well.”
Twisting animals’ tails to make them run out of chutes faster, putting fingers up a calf’s nose to control the animal, and using spurs are common practices at rodeos, the SPCA says. Straps are tightened around the waist of bulls to make them buck wildly to try to get them off.
In 2004, a steer died at the Cloverdale Rodeo, causing an uproar among animal protection groups. Three years later the rodeo did away with steer wrestling, calf roping, tide-down roping and wild cow milking. The rodeo, Canada’s fifth largest, continues to be a highly popular event.
Surrey mayor Dianne Watt’s and her council supported the move. Vancouver prohibits rodeos within the city. Rodeos are banned in many places around the world. Kamloops doesn’t have rodeos within the city simply because it doesn’t have a venue but there’s the Kamloops Outdoor Pro Rodeo at the KXA, the B.C. High School Rodeo, Ashcroft Rodeo and the Williams Lake Stampede to name a few, all with events animal protectionists say should be banned.
They’re right. Cloverdale took a step in the right direction. It’s the least that should be done.