Media Releases

Animal Justice Calls for Cruelty Charges After Young Cow & 2 Horses Killed at Calgary Stampede

CALGARY—Animal Justice is calling for animal cruelty charges in response to the tragic but entirely preventable deaths of a young cow during a ”steer wrestling” event at the Calgary Stampede on Monday (July 8), and two horses during a chuckwagon race on Friday (July 5) and Saturday (July 6).

As first reported by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), footage from a steer wrestling event shows a competitor from Idaho roughly twisting a young cow’s head back until he fell motionless to the ground. Stampede officials have confirmed that the animal was killed following the event, likely due to a broken neck.

Animal Justice believes that the conduct displayed in the video violates Alberta’s Animal Protection Act (APA) and potentially the Criminal Code. The APA prohibits causing or permitting an animal to be in distress, which includes being injured, in pain, or suffering. 

While the APA grants exemptions for “reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal care,” there are no specific exemptions for animal entertainment practices. 

Animal Justice is also deeply saddened by the deaths of an outrider horse who was killed by the Stampede after being severely injured in a chuckwagon race on Saturday and a horse killed on Friday after being injured in a race. The Stampede did not publicly confirm the deaths until today.

Chuckwagon races, notorious for their high-risk nature, involve teams of horses pulling wagons around a track. These events routinely lead to horse fatalities, with animals dying at the Stampede nearly every year they happen. The stark reality is that no safety measures can eliminate the deadly risks of this brutal spectacle. 

Animal Justice has submitted legal complaints regarding the deaths, urging the Calgary Humane Society (CHS) to hold those responsible accountable by pressing charges.

“It is unacceptable that these completely avoidable rodeo killings continue to occur in the name of entertainment,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “It’s also profoundly frustrating that animal protection laws continue to go unenforced at the Stampede rodeo, despite these cruel animal deaths occurring year after year. Rodeos aren’t above the law, which is why Animal Justice is exploring every legal option to obtain justice for these animal victims, including taking action ourselves against those responsible.”

Earlier this year, Animal Justice was permitted by a judge to pursue a rare private prosecution against a Manitoba horse exporter after the Crown declined to lay charges. 

According to data from the VHS, over 100 animals have needlessly lost their lives at the Calgary Stampede since 1986. The Stampede’s deadliest year on record was 2019, when six horses died during the chuckwagon races. 


Josh Lynn
Public Relations Manager
[email protected]

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
[email protected]