Pop quiz time, Care 2 readers. What high school pep rally event could possibly result in this outcome: angry parents, weeping schoolchildren, television news coverage, blistering Facebook complaints and an animal rescue? Who guessed “a pig rodeo”? Was that you? If so, you get a gold star.
In a moment of brilliantly bad decision making, the Ninety Six High School in Greenwood, S.C., decided it would be a mighty fine idea to hold a “pig rodeo” as a fundraiser during a pep rally on Feb. 20. What actually happened at that event is hard to determine with any accuracy, however. The story differs depending on who’s telling it.
What’s crystal clear is that many people, parents and students alike, were extremely upset about the way the pig was treated.
Catching a Frightened Little Pig
School representatives placed a young, greased female pig in a fenced off area inside the school gymnasium. The point of the “rodeo” was to have competing teams try to catch the pig as it ran around inside the enclosure. It’s fun to chase a scared pig who can’t get away, after all, right?
According to some attendees, the pig ran around the enclosure squealing as faculty and students tried to grab her. An educated guess might be that she was frightened. Another educated guess might be that those who were able to grab the pig probably got their hands on a greasy, wildly thrashing and surprisingly heavy animal.
Several participants probably hefted the shrieking pig up and then lost their grip. The poor pig undoubtedly fell to the floor more than once, awkwardly and hard.
Reports say that one parent present at the event posted the following to her Facebook page:
The animal’s head struck the gym floor several times as it was lifted shoulder height and spiked like a football. Students were crying and visibly upset by the pig’s screams of terror and pain.
Several students walked out and were mocked by a teacher for it. As other students tried to flee the grisly sight, they were forbidden and made to stay and listen to this animal be tortured. One young girl hid under the bleachers in tears. By the end of the ordeal, the pig could no longer walk. Students suspected his legs were broken.
My children and several of their friends came home visibly distressed.
Students reportedly posted these comments to Facebook afterward:
I’m still sickened to the point of no return. It was a traumatizing experience… The sight alone was horrific enough to be plastered into my mind forever, but what really topped off the haunting and completely unnecessary affair? The sound. The bloodcurdling shrieks, squeals and screams. I cannot stress the magnitude of anguish I felt in the pit of my stomach.
School was just…awful. I’m pretty sure that was considered animal cruelty. And I don’t appreciate being called stupid, silly and needing to chill out.
Clearly, there’s enough parent and student anger out there to validate that something seriously inappropriate happened in that school gymnasium. Even if it turns out to be not much more than a case of a scared, squealing pig being chased around and perhaps dropped several times, that’s enough to raise the ire of animal lovers.
And to do it in front of tearful children? Wrong for the pig, wrong for the kids. What were they thinking?
School District Superintendent: I‘m Sorry, It Won‘t Happen Again
Greenwood District Superintendent Dr. Mark Petersen made the decision to have a “pig rodeo” at the pep rally. He’s hip deep in a media circus now, so he must be deeply regretting that choice.
“Yes, we did have a pig rodeo yesterday afternoon in the high school and the middle school was there as well,” he told WYFF News 4. “I would never harm an animal, let alone in front of children. This activity will not be scheduled again. I apologize to those that were offended.”
Charlotte the Pig, Happy at Sanctuary
Joe Mann, a representative of Big Oaks Rescue Farm, took the pig to a veterinarian the day after the rodeo. The school had returned the pig, now known as Charlotte, to the home from which they’d borrowed her. Mann showed up, apparently at the request of the school, and asked if he could take Charlotte to the veterinarian for an examination.
The vet, Dr. Paula Watkins, found no broken bones. She did identify some soft tissue injuries and bruising, but could not say for sure whether these occurred before the rodeo or during it. Otherwise, Charlotte is fine. She is now resting comfortably at the sanctuary, blissfully unaware of the rancorous frenzy her rodeo experienced has caused.
Dr. Petersen has already apologized and stated he’ll never hold a pig rodeo again. If you’d like to let him know that he should never again schedule any type of school event which uses a live animal for entertainment purposes, please sign this petition. We will see that it is delivered to Dr. Petersen. It’s the least we can do to make it up to Charlotte.
Photo credit: Big Oaks Rescue Farm Facebook page