Taking a stand for animal rights seems somewhat of an uphill battle at times. It feels as though we are taking one step forward and two steps back. Even as a progressive society, we continue to abuse, exploit, and inflict suffering on innocent victims all in the name of entertainment. This summer, Montreal Canada is holding a rodeo as part of its 375th Anniversary celebrations.
That’s right, a rodeo – the epitome of exploitation of animals for the sole purpose of human amusement. The NomadFest Urban Rodeo, which will be held from August 24th to the 27th in the city’s Old Port, has no significance to Montreal’s traditions or history and no bearing on the city’s rich cultural aspects. Despite the resounding uproar from many animal rights organizations, Montreal’s Mayor has blatantly stated the rodeo will go ahead as planned. How can you help stop the event in Montreal?
Animals Are Not Entertainment
The use of animals for entertainment purposes is outdated and barbaric. We force horses to race for monetary gain and pull tourists around in carriages through busy city streets in extreme weather conditions; we keep others captive for our viewing pleasure in zoos and aquariums; and subject cows, pigs, chickens to life in factory farms where they feel nothing but fear and agony. Their natural behaviors and instincts are suppressed – denied basic freedoms and interactions with their herd mates and friends. A few hours of entertainment and pleasure to us is a lifetime of suffering for the unwilling participants. When does it end?
One of the cruelest “sports” is the rodeo. Photojournalist and animal advocate, Jo-Anne McArthur has documented numerous rodeos over the years. Her poignant photographs tell stories of continual misery and anguish.
As she observed, the animals “have no autonomy or say in whatever we have planned for them next. If they refuse to move, they are hit with sticks or with an electric prod. As they are forced into the confines of the chutes, bulls will often look behind them or over the gates and bars for a way out…their use and their suffering are intrinsic to, and inseparable from, the rodeo.”
Devices such as electric prods producing upwards of 5,000,000 volts of electricity are used to get a bull to rear and buck; spiked metal spurs on the rider’s boots dig into the animals’ sensitive sides to illicit a reaction; whips are used on horses often causing injury; and flank straps are tied so tightly around the animals’ belly that they cause extreme discomfort and pain. The fore mentioned equipment sounds like something from the dark ages designed for the sole intent of torture, and yet they are entirely legal. This is standard practice in the industry.
Montreal’s outdoor rodeo will include bull riding, as well as bareback and saddle bronco riding. The horses and bulls involved in the event will be forced to perform out of pure fear and submission. They will be subjected to undue stress and pain resulting in not only injury but also risk of death. The event only serves to promote the continued exploitation of animals for the sole purpose of profit and entertainment.
The rodeo’s response? “Rodeos have changed a lot for the last 100 years and actually horses and bulls are athletes for us,” said NomadFest’s producer Maxime Lefebvre. Sentient beings filled with emotion and understanding are once again reduced to mere objects – their suffering ignored and forgotten as long as they can keep us amused. How can you help?
How You Can Help
The Montreal SPCA has been working tirelessly to put an end to the upcoming rodeo in August. They have created a website filled with a vast amount of information regarding cruel rodeos and invite the public to: learn the truth about rodeos; take action by signing a letter to the Montreal’s Mayor; and ask 375th-anniversary sponsors to revoke their support and contributions.
Take a moment to add your name to the petition and share the SPCA’s campaign. Despite strong opposition from many animal right’s organizations, Montreal plans to go ahead with the event without second thought or consideration for the welfare of the animals involved. By boycotting the rodeo and telling others to do the same, we can show Montreal that events such as these are a disgrace and an embarrassment to its traditions.
As Andrew Linzey said, “If tomorrow we decided only to desist from killing and causing suffering for sport and entertainment, the world would be significantly better for animals. Even this we have failed to achieve.”