Horse Deaths At Calgary Stampede Spark Outrage
Three horses are dead and a fourth is seriously injured after a crash occurred in Thursday night’s Rangeland Derby competition at the Calgary Stampede.
One of the lead horses in a chuckwagon race went down, dragging the rest of the horses with it. An outrider ran into the back of the wagon, but was not injured.
Stampede officials believe the lead horse may have died during the race, causing the accident. This incident has now sparked an animal rights debate.
A necropsy done Friday determined that the first horse died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm near the kidney, said Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser.
A number of animal rights groups who were already critical of the Stampede, including chuckwagon racing, are calling for the suspension of these events.
“It always shocks and infuriates me … you’d think after 100 years they’d come to realize they cannot prevent deaths,” said Michael Alvarez-Toye of the Calgary Animal Rights Coalition.
The Calgary Humane Society agrees.
“Because there are no laws being broken we are monitoring what’s going on down there, but certainly we would like to … make sure that with the inherent risks in these events that we are doing whatever we can to make these events as safe as possible for the animals,” said Christy Thompson of the Calgary Humane Society.
Over the weekend, several different protest groups set up cardboard tomb stones and held up placards across the road from the Calgary Stampede grounds.
The protesters chanted slogans like “Stampede OK, rodeo no!” and “tradition is no excuse for abuse” at the side of a busy thoroughfare, at times arguing with passersby on their way into Stampede Park.
“We would like Calgarians to know that we are not against the Stampede as a whole. If people want to party and watch Garth Brooks and go on rides, that’s fine,” said organizer Jeremy Thomas.
“There’s other ways of celebrating our Western heritage than celebrating animal cruelty.”
Since 1986, fifty horses have died during these competitions.
“The Calgary Stampede, and the people who bring their animals to the Stampede, care deeply about the welfare and well-being of those animals. The Stampede works collaboratively to mitigate risks to human and animal competitors,” the Stampede said in a release.
Recent changes to the way events are ran have reduced the number of injuries and deaths, but animal rights groups are still calling for the end stampede rodeo events which involve significant risk to animals.