Animal safety is a big deal to a lot of people but it definitely gets more attention during Stampede time as animals are often center stage in many of the exhibits and events. I wanted to understand how the Stampede ensures the safety of the animals so I did a little investigating. Turns out there’s a lot to learn!

A new rule, effective this year, in the steer wrestling competition is: if a steer falls with his legs under him or lands on the opposite side of the cowboy, known as a “dog fall,” a judge will automatically end the run and the cowboy will be given a “no time.” To receive a time the cowboy must throw the steer so the feet and head are facing the same direction. The Calgary Stampede Rodeo is the first rodeo in North America to implement this “no time” rule. This rule is being imposed to ensure animal safety during the event. It is just one of the steps the Calgary Stampede has taken to make sure that animals are treated safely during the Stampede. Here are some other examples:

The Calgary Stampede takes a disciplined approach to animal care, focused on meeting three distinct standards:
– The regulations set out in Alberta’s Animal Protection Act; these are regulations monitored on-site each year by the Calgary Humane Society and Alberta’s SPCA;
– The codes of best practices for each animal species as recommended by Canada’s industry experts; and
– The animal care practices developed specifically for the Stampede-specific events.

During Stampede, a team of veterinarians are on Park full-time to ensure proper care for the animals involved in the Stampede’s many exhibition, education and competition events. Earlier this year the Calgary Stampede established a new Animal Care Advisory Committee of leading experts who are helping identify new ways to enhance animal care. Three years ago, the Calgary created a Chuckwagon Safety Commission which continues to set the highest standards for safety in that sport.

The Calgary Stampede meets each year with the Calgary Humane Society and Alberta SPCA to hear their assessment of the stampede’s practices. Over the years, their input has led to many improvements. The Calgary Stampede provides the Calgary Humane Society and Alberta SPCA with unfettered access to all corners of Stampede Park – both organizations are empowered by the Province to enforce Alberta’s Animal Protection Act.

There you have it! One thing I realized while doing all this research is that the Stampede is always working with a wide variety of stakeholders to ensure the safety of the animals, but also to accurately demonstrate the skills required by the cowboys as many events show skills that come directly off the farm or ranch.