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Third horse death at Calgary Stampede prompts welfare debate

A third horse has died at the Calgary Stampede in Canada.

The horse collapsed and died of a heart attack on Friday night (10 July) after the fourth heat of the GMC Rangeland Derby.

A vet was called to the horse, who was ridden by an outrider in Ray Mitsuing’s team, after it died of a heart attack.

The Calgary Stampede ended on Sunday (12 July) but there has since been debate about animal welfare at the event after the deaths.

The previous Sunday (5 July) a horse belonging to Reg Johnstone died of a heat attack after the first heat of the chuckwagon race.

And on Tuesday (7 July) another chuckwagon horse, belonging to Barry Hodgson, was put down after breaking his near fore during the race.

A cow also died at the Stampede. It was put down after injuring its spine in a steer-wrestling event.

The Vancouver Humane Society condemned the deaths to The Canadian Press.

The spokesman for the society told the paper that the organisation believes public attitudes are changing and it’s time for rodeo officials at the Calgary Stampede to recognise this.

But Stampede president and vet Dr David Chalack told The Canadian Press it was an average year for animal deaths and rejected any suggestion that the public is turning against the rodeo events. He also added that officials were always looking into how to improve animal care.

“Regrettably, an animal will die from time to time,” said Dr Chalack.

“We work with the SPCA [Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] and the humane societies. Our image built over 97 years didn’t happen by being abusive to the very thing that makes us successful.

“I make my living by looking after animals and animal welfare. It’s number one on our priority list,” he said. “We’re continually looking at the rules and programming so that we strive to improve every year in all areas.”

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