Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


Calgary Stampede targets animal care leadership

Five insights as new initiatives in animal care for western events roll forward

Posted: July 15, 2014

Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede is a unique player in the world of animal care. It sits at the intersection of centuries of western heritage and a modern, largely urban society with rising expectations.

It has become a highly visible focal point of debate on the animal care issue. It has also taken a proactive stance as a leader - managing a pressure cooker of expectations while introducing clear initiatives that are making a difference.

Check out some of the background here and here from past NewStream stories.

In addition, here are five new observations on the ongoing Calgary Stampede animal care effort and its place in today's landscape.

University of Calgary's Dr. Ed Pajor helps lead a growing research effort at Stampede

Key observations

1. Animal care remains at the forefront. Calgary Stampede is hands down the most recognized western events celebration in the world. Animals are the lifeblood of Stampede activities and the event embraces the responsibility that brings. As animal care has risen in the public consciousness, the Calgary Stampede's efforts to show transparency, accountability and a commitment to continual improvement have expanded to meet this demand.

2. Stampede setting the bar. Many of the specific initiatives Calgary Stampede has introduced – such as the Fitness to Compete program, Animal Care Advisory Panel, updated animal care standards, and animal safety audits – are firsts in the world of rodeo and western events. They set an example for others to follow.

Ready to ride. High profile event puts spotlight on use of animals.

3. Commitment to research. Relationships such as the Calgary Stampede partnership with the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) have positioned the city, province and country as the international leader in research and knowledge related to animal welfare in western events. To name just one example among many, UCVM's Dr. Ed Pajor and Dr. Renaud Leguilette and their team are in the fourth year of leading ground breaking research on the behavior of bulls, barebacks and saddle broncs at the Stampede.

4. Doing it the right way. There will always be skepticism around any organization or corporate entity touting its animal care initiatives. But one thing clear with Calgary Stampede is the signs they are committed to doing this the right way. One example is by utilizing the knowledge of internationally recognized animal care experts, such as Dr. Temple Grandin, who bring a high degree of credibility. Another is by taking a 'warts and all' approach to the timely release of information, such as the results of annual animal welfare assessments. The Calgary Stampede's 'McDonald's questions'-style Animal Care Q and A web page is another indication of an open communications style that plays well in today's environment.

5. Pathway to progress. Whereto from here? The Calgary Stampede will likely never do enough to appease ardent critics such as the Vancouver Humane Society. But it appears intent on heading in a direction to keep it in line with the values and expectations of its community and the mainstream of society that ultimately provide its license to operate. The challenge now is to keep up its commitments and grow the leadership position it has staked in recent years. Watch for more updates in future editions of NewStream Farm Animal Care.

Reprintable with credit. This article is available for reprint, with acknowledgement of the source as Meristem Land and Science, www.meristem.com.

Meristem is a Calgary-based communications firm that specializes in writing about western agriculture, food and land use. More articles at www.meristem.com.




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