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Humane society finds taker for critical Stampede ad

VANCOUVER - An advertisement calling for a ban on calf roping at the Calgary Stampede has found a home in the Globe and Mail after being rejected by Calgary’s two major dailies.

The full page ad from the Vancouver Humane Society shows a photograph of a cowboy labelled as a “bully” wrestling a calf described as a “baby.” The ad’s text says that calves are subject to stress, fear and pain for the sake of entertainment.

“No way to treat a baby,” it says. “It’s time to ban calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede.”

The humane society welcomed the Globe's decision to run the ad in today's Western Canada edition of the paper and has been strongly critical of the refusal of the Calgary Sun and the Calgary Herald to print it.

“We thought it was a case of suppression of free speech and dissent,” said Peter Fricker, the organization's projects and communications director. “We felt that they were caving into pressure from the Calgary Stampede.”

The only local media carrying the ad are the alternative weekly Fast Forward and radio station X92.9 FM.

The humane society favours a complete ban on rodeos, said Fricker, but is targeting calf roping because of the nature of the event and growing opposition.

“We think it’s one of the most inhumane events given the age of the animal,” he said.

“We have targeted specific events because we feel there is a lot of public support for banning calf roping and obviously we can only make changes as far as public opinion is willing to support it.”

The society was succesful in its campaign to have calf-roping events banned at B.C.'s Cloverdale Rodeo.

The humane society is also speaking out against the Calgary Stampede's chuckwagon race after a horse died of a heart attack following the event on Sunday.

“The chuckwagon race is the cause of most of the deaths that take place at the Stampede,” said Fricker, adding that 22 horses have died since 1999.

“We think it’s just completely unnecessary that these horses are put at risk of injury or death just for the sake of entertainment,” he said.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

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