Rodeo animal welfare concerns in British Columbia
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Animal welfare at rodeos

Are rodeos harmless entertainment or do they cause animal suffering?

We recognize the long tradition of cattle ranching in B.C. and appreciate the handling skills showcasing. The BC SPCA supports the exhibition of low-stress handling skills and horse riding events that do not cause fear, frustration, anxiety, pain or injury to an animal.

Rodeos that feature animals bucking and running to escape cowhands, while exciting for the audience, are stressful and dangerous for the animals. Every year, many animals in these kinds of events get hurt with sprains, bruises, broken limbs and necks. Animal deaths at rodeos are reported annually across the country.

A rodeo the whole community can enjoy

Rodeo professionals often make the case that their animals are treated extremely well outside of rodeo events. While the BC SPCA is supportive of their attentive care, events such as calf roping and steer wrestling have too high a risk for injury to the animals. The potential for pain and fear experienced by the animals for the purpose of entertainment is not justified by low-stress handling the rest of the year.

Instead, we support the concept of showcasing low-stress cattle handling skills, such as those taught by Dr. Temple Grandin. Horse riding events that exhibit the close connection between rider and animal without causing unnecessary stress on the animals also demonstrate skill and partnership.

Read the BC SPCA’s position statement on rodeos.

Recent wins for rodeo animals

In recent years, some responsible rodeos have made an effort to modify or exclude certain events, limiting the pain and injuries suffered by animals. These changes point toward the future of agricultural exhibitions involving animals.

In 2007, the Cloverdale Rodeo Association agreed to remove four events from its roster – calf roping, team-roping, steer wrestling and wild-cow milking – after considering serious concerns about animal welfare. We urge other rodeo competitions to follow in the Cloverdale Rodeo’s footsteps and consider removing these events.

In 2017, the BC SPCA wrote to the Chilliwack Agricultural Society regarding the Chilliwack Fair, in the hopes that they too would remove their tie-down roping and steer wrestling events from the roster.

Rodeo horse riding

Three ways to make change for rodeo animals

  1. Do not attend rodeos with events that jeopardize the welfare and safety of animals, like calf roping or steer wrestling.
  2. Write a letter to the BC Rodeo Association, your local rodeo association, their sponsors and your municipality, asking them to consider safer, more humane events.
  3. Spread the word about rodeos by sharing this page with your friends and family.

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