For the past few years, teams of four people could pay $30 to try to catch a pig in a muddy pit at Indiana’s Allen County Fair. Once they grabbed hold of the terrified, squealing pig, the team had to put it on top of a barrel. If they accomplished this in 45 seconds or less, the team won a prize.
Does this “Pig Wrestling Contest” sound anything like “good, clean fun?” That’s exactly how Greene County 4-H Council President Russ McDonald described it recently.
“I mean, I guess it is how you look at it, but I can tell you we are not abusing those animals,” McDonald told the News-Sentinel. He compared it to tussling with the family dog on the living room floor. The participants “are pulling and grabbing at them and wrestling around,” he said. “A hog is a rough, very hardy animal, and they do not get hurt.”
And as for the pig’s piercing, frantic squeals, McDonald said they’re perfectly normal. “Pigs are loud, and they start that squalling, and people think they are being abused,” he told the News-Sentinel. “That’s just the sound a pig makes. And running around in mud? This is what pigs do.”
McDonald and his fellow pig-wrestling fans point out that the rules for the Allen County Fair’s Pig Wrestling Contest ban “artificial catch devices” such as spikes and hooks, and state that unnecessary cruelty will not be tolerated. Team members who abuse the pig are disqualified.
Wrong. Not surprisingly, the River Valley Crawford County Humane Society (RVHS) in southern Indiana has a very different way of looking at this contest.
“It’s just a mistreatment of animals first and foremost,” Tanya Tuell, founder and president of the RVHS, told the Courier-Journal in February 2015. “If someone did this to a dog or a cat, they’d be charged with cruelty immediately.”
The RVHS tried unsuccessfully last year to convince the Harrison County Fair organizers to cancel the contest. Here’s a glimpse of the “good, clean fun” suffered by the pigs at that fair:
No Pig Wrestling in Allen County
Fortunately, this year Allen County’s prosecuting attorney, Karen Richards had better luck than the RVHS. After receiving complaints about the pig wrestling contest at the Allen County Fair, Richards looked up Indiana’s animal cruelty and neglect statute.
“Since when does terrorizing farm animals amount to a fair event?” she told WANE. “Substitute your cat or your dog for the pig and you get the idea of what the statute is for.”
Richards told the News-Sentinel she found there could be “possibly a violation” regarding these laws, so she sent an email to the Allen County Fair’s organizers. “I thought I’d give them a heads up,” she said.
The warning worked. This year’s pig wrestling contest at the Allen County Fair was cancelled.
A sign — which fair organizers denied posting — was placed near the fair’s entrance. “Thanks to Karen Richards, the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney, there will be no Pig Wrestling,” it said.
I mean, I guess it is how you look at it, but that sign could be interpreted two different ways. Here’s hoping it was expressing sincere gratitude for Richards — although I doubt it.
Other county fairs in Indiana have also stopped having pig wrestling contests, according to WANE, but these cruel events continue to be held around the country. The Chouteau County Fair in Montana, for example, is holding one on August 19 as a fundraiser.
The Golden Harvest Seed Pig Wrestling Contest requires participants to put the captured pig in a barrel “rear end first.” I suppose it’s better than stabbing bullfrogs, but this is still a terrible idea.