Wisconsin-based St. Patrick Catholic Church’s “Pig Rassling” fundraising event grabbed the national spotlight this past week when animal rights groups and outraged citizens spoke out against the cruel tradition.
Also known as pig wrestling or wrasslin’, teams in a mud-filled fenced in area were tasked with manhandling a pig in order to move it over to a designated location within a certain number of seconds.
St. Patrick Church Deacon Ken Bilgrien described the Pig Rassle as “a fun event that attracts hundreds of people each year.” Try telling that to the pigs!
Videos of the event show packs of humans chasing, tackling and doing whatever else they can to get the pigs where they want them to go, while children in attendance are treated to a first-hand lesson in animal cruelty rather than compassion.
Attempts were made to stop the abusive event. Thousands signed petitions, celebrities spoke out against the event, lawsuits against the church were threatened, and letters were sent to the church, including this one from Sarah Withrow King, PETA’s Director of Christian Outreach and Engagement addressed to St. Patrick Church’s Deacon Ken Bilgrien:
Eyewitness information provided to PETA indicates that the animals used this year were crammed into pens with little or no access to shade from the scorching sun, potable water, or food day in the summer heat. And video footage of the event shows pig after pig screaming as they were wrenched in headlocks, tackled, and dragged by their hind legs and had their heads forced into deep mud. the pigs were obviously terrified, as grown men and screaming children lunged at and jumped on them and as attendees hollered from directions. One pig tried in vain to escape the pen as five men closed in, and another limped after having been dropped. After the event, pigs’ backs were lacerated, undoubtedly from the fingernails of people desperately trying to grab hold of them.
Despite the backlash and resulting media attention, the show did go on. St. Patrick Church stood its ground and posted this statement on its website:
The Roundup Days have taken place for more than 40 years, and the Pig Rassle has been part of this event for several of those years.
It goes on to explain:
Consideration is taken to ensure that the pigs are safe and free from any abuse. After consultation with local authorities, it has been determined that there is no illegality associated with this event. St. Patrick Parish does not condone animal abuse.
This country has endured its fair share of “events” that have gone on for over 40 years which are thankfully no longer condoned. Because something as grotesque as pig rassling has been legally permitted for so long does not make it right.
Whether or not pigs are physically harmed during a rassle and whether or not it’s legally permitted, it’s not difficult to imagine just how stressful the experience must be for the pigs that are forced to participate.
And in case there’s any question, a scientific study revealed that there is a direct correlation between pig’s feelings and how they are being treated.
These sentient animals are more intelligent than your average dog, and yet somehow it’s hard to imagine a church fundraiser involving a group of burly young adults tackling a dog into a barrel.
With this years’ rassle over and done with, according to FOX11, the church says it plans to hold the event again next year.
What Can Be Done to Stop Future Pig Rassles?
Back in 2008, pig-wrestling events were canceled in Maryland, and the owner was cited for the cruelty that these events inflicted on the pigs after PETA worked with local activists and authorities to voice objections to the violence.
Act Now to Ban Pig Rassles
St. Patrick Church is most certainly not the first group to organize and promote pig rassling, but if enough people stand up against this cruel form of “entertainment,” perhaps it will be the last.
Sign this petition to tell Wisconsin – Ban Pig Rassles Activities as a Form of Entertainment and share this post.
You be the judge.
Here’s one of the many videos from this year’s St. Patrick Church Pig Rassle. Is this cruelty to animals for the sake of human entertainment or just good clean fun? Share your thoughts in the comments.