The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) says the organizers of the Chilliwack Fair have taken a "big step forward" in agreeing to review two events put on by the annual Chilliwack Rodeo.
In a release dated today (July 31), the Chilliwack and District Agricultural Society—which presents the annual fair and rodeo—said it is "reviewing the tie down roping and steer wrestling events of the Chilliwack Rodeo to determine whether such events are suitable to continue in the 2018 Chilliwack Fair".
The release went on to state that the fair's board of directors will meet to discuss possible "modifications" of the two events—rodeo staples that have been the targets of campaigns by humane societies and animal-rights groups across North America in recent years—or even cancellation to "ensure animal safety".
The statement noted that the board will hold a final vote by the end of September.
Peter Fricker, VHS projects and communications director, told the Straight that even though the promise to investigate comes too late to have an effect on this year's rodeo (the fair runs from August 11 to 13), the society is still pleased to get the response it did after it communicated its concerns about "cruel rodeo events" in mid-July.
"We understand the point that they have certain [contractual] obligations for this year. We understand that and we still regard it as a potentially big step forward, depending upon how they vote in September."
Fricker said that the "tie down roping" referred to in the fair's release is an event that, historically, was called "calf roping".
The acting president of the agricultural society, Cathy Oss, said in the release: "“We care deeply about our animals...Animal health and safety remain our highest priorities."
The VHS has an ongoing campaign against events in the famous annual Calgary Stampede, and Fricker noted that it was instrumental in getting the Lower Mainland's Cloverdale Rodeo "to drop four key events in 2007 following a long campaign".