It’s about this time of the year when people start asking more questions about animal care. It’s likely prompted by the media and social media campaigns of a few people. Most days folks are concerned about families, jobs, health care or the economy. But controversial headlines and  provocative  posts mentioning Calgary Stampede and animals, arouse curiosity to see who’s upset and why. Trouble is, the issue of humans’ relationships with animals is very complex, and in our 140 character Twitter world things tend to get shortened into an emotional sound bite without the benefit of the complete facts and background.

And to have a full understanding of the issues you need to move beyond the sound bite and don’t let your opinion get swayed by animal activists who may be just as interested in the fundraising possibilities that a campaign of this nature offers.

Accusations of abuse will soon start to fly from those with little to no understanding of large working animals and the specialized care and handling skills required to ensure these animals are cared for properly.  They might not have an appreciation for the positive working relationships the Calgary Stampede has with recognized animal care specialists like the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta SPCA. By the way – there is quite a bit of confusion in North America surrounding the use of the words humane society – in fact, the term ‘humane confusion’ has been created to describe it. Many animal rights and lobby organizations use the words humane society even though they don’t offer any local animal welfare services and programs. There’s lots of information online if you’re interested in learning more.

We can all agree that there are divergent viewpoints on the participation of animals in exhibition, competition and education events; just as there are divergent opinions on the use of animals for food or consumer products.  Just like some people choose to eat steaks some don’t.  And each divergent group has varying levels of tolerance for others’ opinions.

The Calgary Stampede has always demonstrated respect for the views of others. It’s our belief that truth, dialogue and cooperation are a better path to explore diverging viewpoints than misinformation, direct action and confrontation.

Over the next week or so, we’ll be posting some of our thoughts to continue the dialogue and discussion.

Oh and if you stumble across this post in December , long after the July Stampede has come and gone, we’ll still be practicing strong animal care on our ranch and on Stampede Park.