The Calgary Stampede annually faces criticism from animal rights groups for its use of animals in its rodeo events. But just five weeks ahead of the 100th anniversary of the “Greatest Show on Earth”, another contentious—but not uncommon—rodeo practice has emerged.
The Calgary Herald reports about 20 horses from the Calgary Stampede’s ranch of 600 are sent to a Fort MacLeod slaughterhouse each year because they’re deemed unfit as companion animals or to participate in the rodeo.
Calgary Stampede spokesperson Doug Fraser denied reports that horses are sent to Bouvry Exports meat processing plant because they’re unable to buck well enough. Rather, he tells OpenFile they’re given a “humane end of life” due to age, temperament or physiological issues.
While the Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses the term “slaughter” when it comes to horses, Fraser declined to use that term, telling us: “It’s a meat-rendering plant. Using the word slaughter is torqueing it if I may put it bluntly. Certainly horses are rendered for their meat, but just the same as cattle are rendered for their meat.”
Throughout our interview, Fraser uses the terms “euthanize” and “humane end of life” to describe treatment of the horses. However, Bouvry Exports, that “meat-rendering” facility/slaughterhouse (pick your own noun), was the target of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition for alleged inhumane treatment of horses in 2010. Fraser was unable to confirm how long Bouvry and the Stampede have worked together.