Here is the video interview we did with Melissa right afer the news got out.
TRK: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today.I think it may seem fairly obvious to most of the people in the activist community why VCARE exists, but can you give me a bit of background about VCARE and what motivated you start the organization?
VCARE: I live very close to the Luxton Fairgrounds. In 2012 I was frustrated seeing all the signs advertising the rodeo and upset knowing these cruel events were still occurring in my community. Shortly before the 2012 rodeo I decided to coordinate a demonstration outside the annual event. The following year I wanted more exposure and credibility so decided to create the group VCARE. It has helped add legitimacy to our voice, allowed us to work more closely with other animal right groups as well as fundraise to support important advertising initiatives, such as the ad pictured here:
TRK: Rodeos are inherently cruel causing a tremendous amount of stress and often injury to the animals involved.Yet, people often go to witness this cruelty willingly.Why do you think people continue to support the rodeo, or do they?
VCARE: Many of those attending and supporting the rodeo events at Luxton are not local people, but rather those from the rodeo community travelling to support the contenders. I believe compassion is a journey, on which some people get further than others. The rodeo participants and supporters honestly do not see what they are doing as wrong although it is so evident to others.
TRK: Rodeos supporters claim their animals are treated very well as they are valuable and loved. How does VCARE respond to this?
VCARE: We do not claim to know how animals are treated by their owners. Our specific concern is what occurs in the rodeo ring. These timed and dangerous events have led to death and serious injury of animals all for the entertainment of people. This is unacceptable and unreasonable in 2014.
TRK: Certainly the culture around rodeos is changing in response to the work of animal activists and changes in public perception.What has the dialogue been like with the Luxton Rodeo event organizers if any?
VCARE: We have attempted to contact the Luxton Pro Rodeo organizers directly by mail and email. Unfortunately we have never received a response from them.
TRK:I have heard that the Luxton Rodeo is actually a small draw to the Luxton fair grounds when it comes to Langford.What is your experience of this?
VCARE: The Luxton grounds rodeo ring does not hold that many spectators. The small venue, which costs extra to fair goers, only last a few hours each day on the May long weekend and is not the major draw, especially for locals. Many more people attend the fairway, dance and other events. In the fall Luxton Fair is held without any rodeo and also does good business.
TRK: You have gone to the City of Langford to try and get the Luxton Rodeo banned or at least certain events.What kind of response have you received from the mayor and council?
VCARE: We have corresponded with the City of Langford and requested that they implement a bylaw similar to that created in Vancouver to address concerns at the PNE or to at least engage in some meaningful discussions around evolving the annual event to address real animal rights concerns. The City of Langford has been asked to consider a bylaw that will ban:Tie down roping (aka calf roping)Team ropingSteer wrestlingFlank strapsCaustic ointmentsElectric prods/shocking devices Forcible handling techniques such as tail twisting, hitting, kicking Langford has never officially responded to our letters, petitions or enquiries. We were directed to read the mayor’s quote in the paper, which we found to be a very unprofessional way to respond to citizen concerns. More recently, the City of Langford stopped returning our calls/emails regarding VCARE meeting with or presenting to council.
TRK:Do you see the continuation of the Luxton Rodeo as more of a political issue? Or is it one of tradition?Something else?
VCARE: The Luxton Pro Rodeo begin in the mid 1970’s, cattle ranching is not a tradition in Langford. This event will continue until those in power realize that more citizens are opposed than support its existence. A community event that is good for the economy can be created without hurting animals.
TRK: What is the focus of your efforts at this time? Do you just want to see the rodeo banned? Or would you be content for the time being having some of the most cruel events removed?If this did happen, would you continue to demonstrate against the event?
VCARE: We have asked that the City of Langford create a bylaw banning the most cruel events and practises. We would be happy to work with the municipality and rodeo to evolve the community event into a family fair including animal husbandry, removing the timed and dangerous events.
TRK: What kinds of demonstrations or activities are you planning for this year?
VCARE: On the May long weekend we will be demonstrating each day, during the rodeo hours, outside the fairgrounds. We will also be looking at demonstrations at Langford City Hall. Some advertising is also being investigated to promote the changes and initiate action by the public.
TRK: How can people get involved with VCARE?
VCARE:The best way to keep posted on what we have happening is to like our page on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/vcare2013?ref=ts&fref=ts We can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on twitter @vcare2013. We always are interested in suggestions on how to reach more people or volunteers that can help with small projects as well as to attend our demonstrations.
TRK: In your honest opinion, what do you think it is going to take to stop having the rodeo at the Luxton fair grounds every year?
VCARE: I think it will take MANY sponsors backing away from the event, citizens continuing to contact the municipality and likely a change in control in the Langford mayor’s office and/or on Langford City Council.
TRK: If you could say one thing to try to encourage people not to support the Luxton Rodeo what would it be?VCARE: Please view these animals as you would those you may have more compassion for. Would you rope a puppy or kitten, would you wrestle and risk breaking the neck of your family pet? All animals deserve equal consideration for pain and fear free lives.
TRK: Are there any links or resources you would encourage people to check out to get more informed about why rodeos in general are cruel and need to be banned?
VCARE: There is more info on rodeos available
TRK: Thank you to VCARE for their tremendous work and ongoing advocacy for animals used in rodeo events.Their work improves the social well-being of us all.