I never enjoyed rodeo festivals, but I’ve been to a few as a teenager. They were (and still are) popular in Brazil, where I grew up. I ended up going because they included in their calendar concerts of famous artists, people I liked.
Shame on me.
As I became more informed, I realized it didn’t matter if I wasn’t watching the rodeo activities. From the moment I bought my ticket and walked past the main gate, I was indirectly supporting animal abuse.
I had to deal with the culture of rodeo also as a journalist. An organization I worked at and one of the top rodeos in the country were partners. The event was always on the cover of the magazine I edited for that employer.
A few years went by and a lot of conversations took place until I finally heard “do what you want with the magazine.” But I still had to write about the rodeo festival, as it gathered about 100,000 people in two weekends.
The good news is, I could focus on the concerts and pretend the rodeo activities didn’t exist. It wasn’t easy to completely ignore something that a lot of people wanted to read. But I did my best with the power I had at the time.
Recently, I’ve read stories about rodeos in Canada. I was surprised. I didn’t know these events were so popular here. But I’m glad that, at least, there are mixed feelings about them.
In 2006, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to prohibit some rodeo activities. As they’re essential to a professional rodeo, the resolution helped ban rodeos from here and made Vancouver the first major Canadian city to prohibit them.
This decision speaks volumes, states the Vancouver Humane Society. The public no longer accepts animal mistreatment. Yes. Although some still don’t believe it, rodeo is synonym of animal suffering.
According to PETA, electric prods, spurs and bucking straps are used to irritate and enrage the animals. Cows and horses are often prodded with an electrical “hotshot” before entering the ring. Why? So the pain will rile them.
On purpose, folks.
Most rodeos involve the use of fear, stress or pain to make animals perform. On its website, the Vancouver Humane Society mentions that the animal behaviourist, Dr. Temple Grandin, has argued that fear is “so bad” for them that it’s worse than pain.
Can you stop for a second and think about what you just read? Fear is so bad that it’s worse than pain. If we wouldn’t permit that our dogs and cats faced this stressful environment, why are we okay with cows, calves, horses and steers facing it? Do they deserve less?
Not only can the animals face stress when participating in rodeo activities, but also be severely injured or killed. We can’t accept the allegations of tradition or entertainment to justify the mistreatment of animals who, believe it or not, are sentient beings like us.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) informs on its website that some rodeos, including the one from Surrey, have made changes to limit the pain and injuries suffered by the animals. This rodeo removed specific activities, such as calf roping, from its roster.
It’s better than nothing, but it’s far from the ideal world. As my mom always repeated during my childhood and adolescence, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” Animals included.
Think twice before going to rodeos. If you don’t go, you’re effectively highlighting your values and showing that you care.
You care, don’t you?
Photo credit: © Marji Beach under Creative Commons via Flickr