Less than a week after the Quesnel Rodeo and two weeks before the rodeo at the Chilliwack Fair, the use of electric cattle prods is again being made an issue by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS).
The VHS obtained photos allegedly showing the use of an electric prod being used at the Quesnel Rodeo on July 21 by the same rodeo company manager as was photographed with the device in Chilliwack in 2018.
|Rodeo manager Roy Call can be seen holding an electric cattle prod near a bull as the rider comes out of the chute at the Quesnel rodeo on July 21, 2019. (Vancouver Humane Society)|
In the photos from July 21 in Quesnel, Roy Call of C+ Rodeos near Williams Lake is seen holding a so-called “hot shot” electric cattle prod device near animals as bull riders emerge from the chute.
Similar photos of Call holding the device as animals started bucking were distributed by the VHS after the Chilliwack Rodeo last year.
(See below for photo from Chilliwack Rodeo.)
“We’re alarmed to see this happening at another rodeo,” spokesperson Peter Fricker said in a press release. “Animals already suffer in rodeos. To subject them to electric shocks to make the perform only adds to their misery.”
But last year Chilliwack Rodeo Association (CRA) president Len Blackstock denied the prod was used to make the animals perform.
“This is untrue,” Blackstock said in a press release. “The handheld device is there for the safety of the animal and rider and was in his hand ready in case needed for an emergency.”
In response to the denial, Fricker insisted the photos illustrate use of the prod to make the animal perform.
“In our opinion, the photos show the prod being actively used to force the bull out of the chute,” he said via email on Friday. “The motion of the man’s arm make that clear.”
Use of such devices on livestock is prohibited in the arena during rodeo performances, under B.C. Rodeo Association rules.
“The Chilliwack Rodeo doesn’t condone mistreatment of the stock at our rodeo. The animals’ welfare is a major concern.”
In an interview with the Williams Lake Tribune after The Progress story last August, Call left comment on the use of the electric cattle prod to the CRA. He did say, however, that times are changing in rodeo.
“Rodeo is under a lot of pressure,” said the rodeo stock contractor, referring to ongoing interference by the VHS and also even the financial burdens of running a rodeo.
“It affects us everywhere we go. Earl (Call) and I are actively looking at what rodeo is going to look like in 10 years. We’re feeling it out every day.”
In its statement this week, the VHS said electric shock devices should not be used to coerce animal to perform in rodeos and is also calling for an end to cruel rodeo events such as calf-roping, steer-wrestling and team-roping.
The VHS opposition to those events goes back years, including a campaign in 2017. In response, the Chilliwack Fair Board voted unanimously after the 2017 rodeo to continue those events in 2018 but to make some rule changes.
In 2018, Blackstock said the CRA would consider whether or not to ban the use of electric cattle prods in the 2019 rodeo. The Progress has reached out to see if that happened. Visit www.theprogress.com for updates to this story.
– with files from Jennifer Feinberg and Angie Mindus