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Langford pressured to block rodeo events

Aug 24 2012

Animal rights advocates are lobbying to eliminate several events from the Luxton Pro Rodeo in Langford, saying the activities endanger the lives and health of livestock.

"I don't want the rodeo to stop, I just want it to evolve," said Langford resident Melissa de Meulles. "I don't see why our community can't take animal rights into consideration and make a much more sustainable event."

De Meulles sent letters from the Vancouver Humane Society, B.C. SPCA, Liberation B.C. and PETA to rodeo organizers in June, asking them to voluntarily withdraw tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling, which she says cause the animals fear and stress and place them in situations that risk injury and death.

She has not received a response, and is now asking Langford council to ban the events.

Council will not likely offer much support, said Mayor Stew Young. He does not want his council weighing in on the discussion because the politicians are not experts on animal safety issues.

"We're not going to stop them just because a group out there thinks the rodeo is being inhumane," he said. "If they're being inhumane, and [the groups] can prove it, then change it, but I have no authority over those types of issues."

Luxton rodeo organizers did not respond to requests for interviews, but officials at the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association say strict regulations protect the animals from harm.

Association administrator Kynan Vine said contractors go to great lengths to ensure the animals are treated humanely.

"The people who want the bans are most likely uneducated in the ways of the rodeo and what we are all about," he said. "Our animals are as important to us, if not more important, than the athletes in the show."

The death of a calf during a 2007 event led the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association to ban roping events - a decision that resulted in its event not being sanctioned by the rodeo association, Vine said.

If the Luxton Rodeo eliminated the roping events, it would lose its sanction.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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