Alliance for Animals has sent an urgent email to the Tomah Mayor, Monroe County Agricultural Society, and Monroe County Fair Board urging them to immediately cancel its planned “Hug-A-Pig event” (July 26) in light of video showing abuse of pigs at last year’s event. During the event, teams of participants chase and wrestle a pig in a muddy pen. The goal of the “game” is to pick up the pig and slam him or her into a barrel in the middle of the ring during the allotted time.
Video footage of the 2016 event shows contestants chasing pigs, pulling on their legs and ears, as well as tackling and rough handling of the frightened animals. In one segment, a pig shows signs of distress and is unable to pick herself up to leave the barrel. This pattern of abuse was seen repeatedly despite contest rules that state “the pigs’ ears, snout, legs and tail are off limits,” and, “Absolutely no abuse, roughing or tackling of the pig will be tolerated. A team may be disqualified at the judge’s discretion.” Very few teams were disqualified in last year’s event for animal mistreatment.
The event may also run afoul of state cruelty-to-animal laws. Wisconsin statute 951.02 makes it a crime for any person to “treat any animal, whether belonging to the person or another, in a cruel manner.” The statute defines “cruel” as “causing unnecessary and excessive pain or suffering or unjustifiable injury or death.” This cruel contest is unnecessary and is therefore in violation of the statute.
If the terrified animal being chased around a muddy ring and slammed into a barrel were a dog instead of a pig, there would be immediate criminal investigations into this cruelty. AFA is now considering referring this matter to local prosecutors. The Monroe County Fair obviously is not able to consistently enforce its own guidelines and should chose a different way of raising funds without holding such a cruel and outdated spectacle.
Last year a brightly lit billboard, stating “Say NO to Hug-A-Pig at County Fair” was on display at the busy intersection of Hwys 12 and 21 in Tomah during the month of July to point out the unnecessary cruelty involved in the contest. A Change.org online petition (now closed – Fair ignored it) gathered 178,000 signatures from around the world. Representatives from Alliance for Animals urged the Tomah City Council to cancel the event last year, but pleas were fell on deaf ears.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Write or call the following people and insist that they cancel the Hug-A-Pig contest this year and permanently.
1. Tomah Mayor Nellie Pater at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Monroe County Fair Board President at email@example.com
3. Monroe County Agricultural Society at firstname.lastname@example.org
Write to the Monroe County District Attorney’s office and ask them to prosecute the offenders for violation of Wisconsin Statute 951.02. Kevin Croninger, 608-269-8780, email@example.com
Send a Letter to the Editor of the La Crosse Tribune to voice your complaint about the Hug-a-Pig at the Monroe County Fair.
Call (608-372-5355) or submit a comment to thank Gordy’s Market in Tomah for NOT sponsoring the Hug-a-Pig contest this year. He received several concerned phone calls and was open to learning more about what goes on during a pig wrestling contest.
If you live in Monroe County, do not go to the Fair.
Send a tax-deductible donation to Alliance for Animals to support our work for the animals.