Threats force animal rights group to cancel anti-rodeo rally
A Lower Mainland animal rights group has cancelled a protest against rodeo events at the Chilliwack Fair Sunday over concerns about potentially violent counter-protesters.
"Despite the Fraser Valley Animal Rights Association's core values as a peaceful organization, we have received multiple threats of violence against our upcoming Chilliwack rodeo protest," the group said in a Facebook post.
The rodeo is the biggest draw at the annual fair and competitors say it represents a culture and lifestyle.
But opponents say the activity is nothing short of cruelty to animals.
"The Chilliwack Rodeo involves subjecting animals to fear, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment," said Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society. "We think it's unethical and unacceptable."
Calf roping, team roping and steer wrestling in particular have been singled out by activists.
But competitors say those accusations are based on misinformation.
"If you don't really understand what you're looking at, I understand how it could look a little rougher than it is," said Chris Neumann, who competes in team roping where two people on horseback rope an animal—one around the head, the other by its hind legs.
"Our shots are generally pretty accurate. You try to get around the horns—that's where (the animals) can take the most abuse."
Fair organizers also defended the rodeo events, but said threats against the activists are not coming from them.
"We had no knowledge of this until we saw it on social media and it's certainly not coming from any of our volunteers or members or board directors," said Cathy Oss, president of the Chilliwack and District Agricultural Society. "We wouldn't condone any of that kind of thing at all."
Some protesters who are not affiliated with FVARA say they still plan to be there to make their opinions heard Sunday and are hoping the RCMP will keep the peace.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Ben Miljure