Teams compete in a chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Monday, July 12, 2010. A horse has died from an injury that occurred during a chuckwagon race at this year’s Calgary Stampede. Stampede officials confirm something happened to the animal about halfway around the track during Wednesday evening’s second heat of the Rangeland Derby. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Advocates want charges in horse deaths during Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

Chuckwagon races are a nightly spectacle during the Stampede, a 10-day annual celebration of western life

An animal welfare group is renewing its call for cruelty charges following the deaths of six horses at this year’s Calgary Stampede.

“Law enforcement — including the Calgary police, Calgary Humane Society and Alberta SPCA — urgently need to investigate and bring these animal welfare concerns before the courts,” Camille Labchuck, executive director of Animal Justice, said Monday.

“Rodeo events are not above the law and should no longer be given a free pass to kill animals.”

Animal Justice is a national organization that works to improve legal protections for animals.

Chuckwagon races are a nightly spectacle during the Stampede, a 10-day annual celebration of western life. Crowds watch as horse-drawn wagons thunder around a dirt track accompanied by outriders.

Three horses belonging to driver Evan Salmond had to be put down on Sunday, the last night of this year’s Stampede, because they were seriously hurt.

On Thursday, Salmond was involved in a collision that resulted in one of his horses being euthanized due to a severe leg injury. Another driver, Chad Harden, was fined $10,000 and barred indefinitely from competing at the Stampede after officials determined he accidentally impeded fellow driver Danny Ringuette and caused Salmond’s rig to veer into the track’s inner rail.

On Wednesday, a horse was put down after it broke a leg during a race. Another animal collapsed and died July 8 from what the Stampede called a medical condition.

READ MORE: Horse euthanized after injury in Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race

READ MORE: Chuckwagon driver fined, disqualified after third horse dies at Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Humane Society is among the groups urging an end to rodeo and chuckwagon events.

The society consulted with Crown prosecutors after Thursday’s collision because it involved driver wrongdoing, said Brad Nichols, who manages the society’s animal cruelty investigations.

It was decided no charges would be laid.

“We don’t like seeing these animals die any more than anyone else does, but … if there’s no offence to be enforced, then we’re not going … to be pressured by public sentiment into laying a charge that ultimately won’t proceed,” Nichols said Monday.

The Stampede said it will do a thorough review of chuckwagon safety, but does not know yet what form that will take.

“This is as upsetting to us as it is to our community, and is challenging for us,” it said in a statement.

“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.”

Under Alberta’s Animal Protection Act, it’s illegal to cause or allow an animal to be in distress. That can include denying it adequate food, shelter or water, or causing it pain and suffering.

The legislation has exemptions for husbandry, hunting, fishing, pest control and slaughter, among other things. Nichols said the law, which has not been amended since 2005, leaves much open to interpretation.

The discussions with the Crown led to the opinion that Stampede events fall within the act’s exemptions. Harden’s punishment also played into the decision not to prosecute, said Nichols.

“Between the fine and the prohibition in participating in the future Stampedes, it’s a significant penalty,” he said.

“If this were to have been charged and gone towards the courts, it would have played into any ultimate decision.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Reflecting on former Kootenay MLA Ed Conroy’s legacy

Former BC cabinet minister and Kootenay MLA Ed Conroy passed away June 26

Salmo RCMP arrest three, seize $15,000

The three adult men have been charged with “Conspiracy to Commit an Offence.”

Milestone RCMP Cops For Kids fundraiser ride going virtual

You can join and help RCMP raise funds for families and possibly win 20th anniversary cycling shirt

Hwy 1 flooding causes massive delays on certain Arrow Lakes ferry routes

Motorists have been waiting around three hours to get on ferries

Nelson cyclist run over by truck

Driver ticketed for failing to yield right of way on left turn

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

Lower Mainland woman says llama farming neighbour shot her 11-month-old pup

Young dog was on owner’s Maple Ridge property when it was killed on June 21

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

Greater Victoria nanny pleads guilty to child porn, sexual interference charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to slew of sex crimes

Most Read