Advocates in Langley protest use of animals in rodeos

Animal rights activists are protesting the Valley West Stampede in Langley, saying animals forced to participate in these events suffer and endure pain.

Protesters gathered outside the Valley West Stampede in Langley this weekend, saying they hope to bring awareness to what they claim are unethical animal practices in rodeos.

Animal rights advocate and protest organizer Paul Fader says the animals forced to participate in these events endure pain.

“We are standing up for the animals and pointing out the unethical treatment that is going on here at these events,” Fader said.

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In a statement to CityNews, the president of the Valley West Stampede says they put “animal safety first, so we only have riding events. No roping or wrestling. It’s proof rodeo can evolve for future generations.”

But Emily Pickett from the Vancouver Humane Society says they have documented distressing footage at the Langley rodeo.

“These types of events take advantage of these animals’ fight and flight response,” Pickett said. “What we saw was things such as roughhousing of the animals, agitating animals in the shoots so they flee and buck in response.

“We think that this is something that causes a lot of suffering for these animals.”

But the Valley West Stampede says the animals at the rodeo are “nothing less than athletes, bred and trained” and are not harmed or abused in any way. As well, it says, there is a veterinarian on site to ensure the animals’ health and safety throughout the event.

Fader says he is worried about the use of the flank strap during riding events, which he says is used to get the animals to buck by putting pressure “on the soft underbelly of the animal.”

“It causes them discomfort and fear and agitation accompanied by loud noises, flashing lights and big crowds,” he said.

Added to this, he said, the animals can have people on their backs prodding them with spurs on their heels.

Valley West Stampede did not comment when CityNews asked if a flank strap is used at any part of the show.

Fader says he understands the rodeo is cultural for some in Langley, but that “doesn’t make it morally permissible to continue these practices.”

He says he is optimistic that all rodeo evants will eventually be phased out. For example, he points out, calf roping is now banned in B.C.

“I think we all deep down understand that it is in the best interest of these animals to be given a life that is natural and normal to what they would be experiencing in nature,” Fader said.

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