‘No’ says Law Professor Alain Roy
By Vicki Van Linden, Director
Professor Alain Roy of the Université de Montréal concludes that Rodeos are illegal in Quebec according to an animal welfare and safety law adopted by that province’s National Assembly in 2015.
The Animal Welfare and Safety Act (RLRQ, C. B-3.1) prohibits: “… all abuse or mistreatment that may affect the health of animal beings, or any action or omission that exposes them to distress.”
To determine if Rodeo exploitation causes animals distress, let’s consider what takes place during a calf roping event.
A calf runs away from a man mounted on a horse, but the calf has no real chance of escape.
The man lassos the panicked animal with a rope around the neck. The other end of the rope is tied to the saddle on the horse. The man then jumps down and twists the calf’s neck to force the animal onto the ground and ties all four of the victim’s feet together. The animal is now helpless and the calf’s eyes clearly show that he is terrified. Video evidence taken at Rodeos shows that the calf is then sometimes dragged across the ground by his neck if the horse backs away with the lasso still attached to the saddle.
While the calf is made to endure physical pain, fear, and distress, he is surrounded by hundreds of shouting people who seemingly take delight in watching his suffering and the human’s domination of the vulnerable animal.
This is Rodeo.
Rodeos are a form of animal exploitation completely dependent on the abuse of domesticated animals. The humans have everything stacked in their favour. What Rodeos say about modern Canadian society is surely discouraging.
In an August 2017 CBC article, Mr. Sylvain Bourgeois, a producer with a rodeo organization said about such animals: “We don’t want to hurt them […] We want them to perform so we make sure they like what they’re doing.” After watching several videos of Rodeo events while focusing attention on the animals themselves, it’s obvious that they do not “like what they’re doing.”
It’s clear to see that the calves are frightened and do not enjoy being chased, wrestled to the ground, tied up and sometimes dragged. To claim that any animal, especially a prey species, finds this enjoyable is the worst kind of lie.
Prey species, like cattle, have innate fears of sudden movements and loud noises. Prey animals, like horses and cattle, derive emotional well being from being surrounded by a herd. The presence of their own kind provides them safety. If we think of what a lone calf experiences being sent out of a chute into a noisy ring, alone and unprotected, with shouting humans all around while being chased and then tied up, his emotional distress would surely be profound.
Now, we see that heroic action is taking place in the Province of Quebec.
A legal challenge to the legality of Rodeo events in that province is underway.
Law Professor Alain Roy has submitted a report to the Rodeo Advisory Committee created last year by the Québec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ).
This 600-page report includes analyses conducted by Dr. Jean-Jacques Kona-Boun, DMV, MSc, DACVAA, veterinarian and anesthesiologist. Dr. Kona-Boun witnessed 45 hours of live Rodeo events in Quebec during 2017, and also analyzed video evidence frame by frame.
Dr. Kona-Boun concluded:
The rodeo activities held in accordance with the standards in effect in Montréal and St-Tite subject horses and bulls to the risk of injury such as fractures and other serious injuries. The same is true of the calf-roping and steer-wrestling. The psychological distress experienced by all the animal beings used in such activities is also very real.
What does this analysis mean for animals forced to endure Rodeo events in the Province of Quebec, and in light of the 2015 law?
“The treatment of horses, bulls, steers and calves in rodeos is irreconcilable with the provisions of the new law, according to which animals are no longer objects, but ‘beings endowed with sentience’ whose welfare and safety must be assured” explains Professor Alain Roy.
Professor Roy concludes that Rodeos are in violation of Quebec’s 2015 law.
He now calls on the Government of Québec to “ensure compliance with its own law.”
Animal Alliance of Canada supports this action. We welcome the persistent and careful effort undertaken by Professor Roy, including work by students, and Dr. Kona-Boun.
What is demonstrated by this action is that laws provide a powerful tool to advance the protection of animals. Once laws are passed, such as the law passed in Quebec in 2015, we rarely see those laws enforced until there is a legal challenge. Professor Roy and his colleagues are providing that challenge. But, without the law, this challenge would not be possible.
We know that the entire Rodeo community, and likely other animal exploiting businesses, will fight hard against this action. They are highly motivated to keep the legal and social status of all animals low. The very existence of these animal-using businesses is threatened by our growing understanding of how deeply animals suffer when made to endure harsh treatment, pain and fear.
To inflict such distress on animals for the purpose of human entertainment is indefensible. Rodeo events contribute to communities being more tolerant of violence. We are all shamed by such businesses, and it’s up to us to stand against them.
And so we resist.
For more information, visit alainroy.ca