Calgary Stampede funding cut reignites call to end chuckwagon races

Mar 5 2020, 10:48 am

The 2020 Alberta Budget has sparked more calls for the province to cut funding to the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races, as animal activists argue that the event is an unnecessary danger to the animals that take part.

The budget cut the 2020-2021 grant down to $6.25 million from the $6.7 million seen in 2019 and $7.7 million included in the 2018 budget.

PETA states that all funding should be cut from the chuckwagon races as a way to meet the province’s “financial restraint and prevent horses from suffering and dying.”

Last year was one of the Stampede’s deadliest for horses, with six dying throughout the 10-day event.

Baywatch star and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson sent a letter to Jason Kenney in the weeks following the 2019 Stampede calling for an end to the races.

Following the recent budget announcements, PETA’s Senior Manager John Di Leonardo sent a similar letter to Travis Toews, Alberta’s treasury board president and minister of finance.

The letter can be read in full below:

Dear Mr. Toews,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide—including many in Alberta—following your ministry’s recent announcement of funding cuts for the Calgary Stampede. To meet your financial restraint goals and prevent horses from suffering and dying, will you please cut funding for the Stampede’s chuckwagon races entirely?

Six horses died during last year’s event alone, including three who were killed in a scene so graphic that a tarp was used to shield the carnage from public view. CBC News has reported more than 70 animal deaths in the chuckwagon races, a list compiled using data from the Calgary Humane Society and media reports, because the Stampede itself declined requests to provide records of animal deaths. Tightening the rules—as the Stampede did in 2010—isn’t enough, as more than a dozen horses have died since then. They’ve sustained fractured legs and broken backs, while others have suffered heart attacks. Anyone watching can see animals foaming at the mouth as their eyes roll back in their heads.

While over a million people visit the fairgrounds annually for cultural exhibits and rides—and upwards of 2.5 million when you include concert attendees—only a fraction go for the chuckwagon races. The midway offers a fun experience for all visitors, but it’s tainted for those who learn about the rising death toll just a few hundred meters away.

Many animal protection organizations across Canada have called for an end to the chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede, and celebrities including Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, and Bob Barker—along with countless Canadian residents—have also taken action on this issue. Will you please use your authority to cut all funding for the chuckwagon races?

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,

John Di Leonardo

Senior Manager of Animals in Entertainment