A cruel detour to the slaughterhouse

Is an inhumane rodeo Montreal’s new idea of entertainment?

By Anne Streeter

Stranger than fiction. Montreal is celebrating it’s 375th birthday this year and one of the events taking place this summer will be a rodeo in the historic Old Port section of the city!

You ask – what is wrong with this picture? What is a rodeo and does it belong here? Does it even belong in the West? Supporters maintain it represents historical fact in cowboy lore. In fact it really doesn’t. Chuck wagon racing, steer wrestling, bronco riding and barrel racing were never part of the ranching scene. The only activity remotely accurate would be calf roping for branding purposes but this was never meant to be entertainment.

Chuck wagon racing, steer wrestling, bronco riding and barrel racing were never part of the ranching scene.

Rodeo today is entertainment only – entertainment at the expense of animals. There is no question that animals suffer in rodeos, regardless of what the promoters tell us. Rarely does a Calgary Stampede end without an animal dying – some instantly and others having to be euthanized because of their injuries. The stats are irrefutable.

Back to Montreal. Of all the wonderful events that could take place to honour the birthday of this amazing and special city why would the powers that be decide on such a crude and potentially cruel activity? To the surprise of the Mayor, the promoters and the sponsors, there has been an amazing backlash from just about every segment of society – individuals, the Press, humane societies, Montreal’s official opposition party, vets and vet techs. To be more specific, Project Montréal has come out in opposition, the CSPCA, the Vancouver Humane Society, Animal Alliance of Canada and the International Humane Society have all submitted petitions with thousands of signatures. A petition with 600 signatures from vets and vet techs was submitted with comment at City Hall.

‘Of all the wonderful events that could take place to honour the birthday of this amazing and special city why would the powers that be decide on such a crude and potentially cruel activity?’

Twenty-three national and international animal welfare organizations have put forward their names in opposition to this event. As well, two very well known sponsors have backed out of this segment of the Nomadfest.Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caMayor Coderre apparently stands by this decision. It is hard to know what more could be done to put a halt to this event. Of course there will be demonstrations during the three-day event. It certainly would have been preferable to nip this in the bud but now we have to make sure that rodeo never comes to our city again.

On a final note I have to say that Montreal, particularly under Mayor Coderre, is not an animal friendly city. Rodeo is a first and breed specific legislation is a first. As well, we have the ongoing serious controversy about caleche horses. In light of all the information against horses working in an urban environment, Mayor Coderre is determined to keep them on the city streets. Interestingly, Project Montreal, the official opposition, is opposed to caleche horses in the city, breed specific legislation and the rodeo.

It is time for Montreal to recognize that we are behind the times when it comes to evolving concerns about animal welfare. The interest is here. Lets see that it translates into action.

Feature image: courtesy of Animal Alliance of Canada

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca, its publishers or editors.

Read also Keeping an Eye on Animals

Anne Streeter WestmountMag.ca

Anne Streeter worked as a volunteer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. She was one of the first people to go with Brian Davies to the ice off of the Magdalen Islands to see if tourism could be an alternative to the seal hunt back in 1970. She later moved over to the International Wildlife Coalition (USA) to head up their campaign against fur. She served on the CSPCA Board from 1990 until 1993. She is a Director of the Animal Alliance of Canada since 1990.

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There are 13 comments

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  1. Frances

    What would Jacques Cartier think?! (I suppose: “C’est fou!”)
    But of course the important point is that this kind of activity contributes nothing to the well-being of animals; rather, it is stressful and harmful. Perhaps it is not too late to write to Mayor Coderre to urge him to cancel this event. (I just did.)

  2. Louise Slattery

    Even if the rodeo were part of Montreal’s heritage (which it is not), it is nothing to celebrate. Abuse and exploitation of animals, causing stress, injury and sometimes death, for human entertainment, should be banned not celebrated.

    • M. Ess

      No rodeo, please! Not in Montreal, not anywhere! It’s a babaric, cruel event best left to the history books!

  3. Jackie

    Why would a city like Montreal which is supposed to be trying to get back on the best places to visit list insist on screwing things up with the newer generations. Just look at the global outcry at the Calgary Stampede and the damage it did to tourism. Montreal endorses Rodeo as entertainment (animal cruelty) Montreal has allowed horrific animal research including taking animals from pound, Banning pit bulls instead of licensing and registering and without the aggressive animal facts. This city is not modern enough for me to waste my travel dollars.

  4. Doris Potter

    I strongly agree that a rodeo is no way to celebrate Montreal’s birthday and, in fact, has no place in the year 2017!

    Rodeos are simply animal abuse.

    Deep internal organ bruising, hemorrhaging, bone fractures, ripped tendons, and torn ligaments and muscles, are all part of the rodeo experience for the unwilling animal participants.

    I ask Montrealers to not support this violence and to contact Mayor Coderre to urge him to reverse his decision on holding these events (see comment by Frances for the on-line link).

  5. Georges Dupras

    There are so many other cultural events that Mayor Coderre could have chosen to represent Montreal and Quebec, I’m baffled as to why he chose a degrading spectable like a rodeo. Certainly a presentation from the Cirque du Soleil would have been more appropriate. I very much fear that efforts to celebrate Montreal’s 375th will be seriously undermined by this throwback that has nothing to do with ranching or western heritage.

    Georges, Saint-Laurent

    • Paola di Paolo

      George, do you think that there is a culture in Corderre’s mind and his councillors of enjoying the domination of animals and that is why he chose the rodeo and keeps the carriage horses? I have been researching animal exploitation in Canadian society and it seems to me that exploitation of animals goes beyond “it’s who we are’, ‘it’s part of our history’, to abusers, exploiters and their supporters feeling strengthened in some disturbed co-dependent way when an animal is abused. We have a few horses rescued from mistreatment on our farm and work with them daily so they can trust people once again. It is a hard road back for them.

  6. Racer

    As a former rodeo competitor, I can validate everything in this article. Rodeo is best relegated to a brief, brutal interval in North American history when illiterate, crude men bulldozed their way through life, dominating, harming and killing anyone and anything in their path.

    The animals are raised and treated with great cruelty. 5000 volt cattle prods are routinely jammed against sensitive skin and even into genitals. Female barrel racing horses have their vulvas sewn up, usually without anesthetic, in response to the woman-hating lie that “sucking wind” slows them down. Calves hit the end of a rough rope, in terror, generating severe soft tissue damage and even fractures.

    Nearly 100% of bucking and chuckwagon horses end up butchered alive in the slaughterhouse. It is impossible to find a retirement home for a horse who has known only rough handling; they become dangerous. Not that rodeo contractors even try to find homes. They pocket the $500 they get from the slaughterhouse, even for animals that have generated profits for years. Breeding animals go to slaughter once they become infertile.

    Nor are rodeo animals given prompt and effective vet treatment. They are often left with unattended wounds, some severe. I came upon one tied behind a barn after a chuckwagon crash, who had his eye gouged out. Over an hour later, he was without vet care. Flies were gathered in the eye socket. We found the vet, and confirmed this was his first call out to this poor animal.

    I can also tell you as a female rodeo competitor, you don’t want these people in Montreal. Hard drinking and fights are part of the culture. Sexual assault at and around rodeos is common and usually unreported. Women are expected to “cowgirl up” and provide sex, and to pretend they like it when assaulted or raped. We’re supposed to take it in stride, just like getting bucked off a horse. Rodeo is a sexist, violent culture that does not belong in the 21st century, let alone a sophisticated city like Montreal.

    • Paola di Paolo

      RACER I just read your response to the article. I thought rodeo was awful, but I had no idea how horrid for the animals and any one other than the bronc riders. The cruelty to the horses is deeply disturbing and must be stopped. And sex assaults on women as part of rodeo ‘culture’ is equally disturbing. Thank you for sharing your experiences. People like you need to share what they saw and experienced.

  7. Susan

    What a stupid thing to do. For one thing, this does NOT fit into Montreal’s laid-back, very cool, arts and music culture. For another, the city doesn’t know what it’s doing with a rodeo. Criticize the Stampede all you want, and it’s justifiable, (I live here, have horses, don’t like rodeo), but Calgary also has a lot of experience in handling this. The veterinarians who now oversee the handling and treatment of the animals are second to none, they’re amazing, and are slowly making inroads into perhaps eliminating some of the events. Animals are wired up to computers to find out exactly what’s going on, and as a result they’ve at least been able to make chuckwagon taxes somewhat safer. Temple Grandin has come to the Stampede, and stated that all the livestock are relaxed, and not stressed at least before performing. Somehow I don’t think this will be the case at a Montreal Stampede. What is Coderre trying to do, get Maxime Bernier into a rodeo with his bull riding? You need a new mayor, that one is a lemon. He’s a Liberal, and they just scuttled their own MP’s animal welfare bill, so what do you expect? In the meantime, find out WHAT the veterinary supervision is, who is doing it, contact the Calgary Stampede Board to make comparisons, and maybe get Temple Grandin to visit. Find out also who has an interest in the rodeo, like slaughterhouses, financial interest. What a disaster in the making, but it’s the animals who pay.

  8. A Dyer

    Excellent article and should be distributed to the CBC English and French! And all other media! CJAD!!! As a horse owner thus rodeo cruelty is beyond belief! Nothing to do with Montreal or Quebec either! Stop it! Mayor Coderre … step down for once! You are wrong!!!!

  9. Dominique

    Didn’t they pass a law in 2015 that changed the status of animals in Quebec? If animal are now sentient beings, and should not be harmed unless it’s necessary , isn’t this event illegal??

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