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Vancouver Humane Society calls death of six horses at Calgary Stampede a 'national disgrace'

Last Updated Jul 15, 2019 at 11:19 am PST

Drivers and horses head to the finish line during chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede. Thursday, July 11th, 2019. (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)
Summary

Vancouver Human Society calls six horse deaths at Calgary Stampede a 'national disgrace'; calls for changes

Stampede authorities have said there will be review of safety surrounding chuckwagon racing

'We and others for a number of years have been calling on the Stampede to suspend the race,' VHS says of chuckwagon race

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The deaths of multiple horses at the Calgary Stampede this year have prompted the Vancouver Humane Society to say “enough is enough!”

Three horses competing during the chuckwagon races on Sunday had to be euthanized by a veterinary medical team, bringing the total number of horses to have died at the annual event to six this year alone.

“This is an appalling situation,” Peter Fricker with the Vancouver Humane Society says. “More than 60 horses have died in the chuckwagon race since 1986.

“We think it’s a national disgrace,” Fricker adds, saying virtually all animal welfare organizations across Canada are concerned with and opposed to “putting animals at undue risk of death and injury.”

On Wednesday, a horse was euthanized after it broke a leg during a race, while another animal collapsed and died Monday due to what the Stampede called a medical condition.

“We and others for a number of years have been calling on the Stampede to suspend the race and set up a panel of independent experts to look at whether the race can be made safer,” Fricker says.

Stampede authorities have said there will be review of safety surrounding chuckwagon racing, but it’s not yet known what form it will take.

From writing letters to calling organizers, Fricker is calling on people to do whatever it takes to let the Stampede know what’s happening is not okay.

“I think the only thing that’s really going to bring change is when Canadians say ‘enough is enough’ and people actually contact the Calgary Stampede and express their concern about what’s happening,” he says.

Related video: Chuckwagon race safety up for review after 6 horses die during Stampede event

Fricker adds the Stampede could learn a thing or two from what’s being done in the Fraser Valley. He says it would be “a major step forward if the Stampede adopted the same format as the Cloverdale Rodeo,” where there are no chuckwagon events.

The Vancouver Humane Society also takes issue with some of the rodeo events at the Stampede, including steer wrestling and calf roping. The group is calling for those events to be banned.

In a statement posted to its website, the Calgary Stampede says the deaths are “upsetting to us as it is to our community, and is challenging for us.

“The Stampede’s commitment to the safety of animals and the conditions of their participation in our events is paramount to our values and brand integrity,” the statement reads. “We will continue to be open in our communication with our community.”

-With files from Derek Craddock and the Canadian Press