Guest opinion: Live up to your principles; end the Pig Scramble | March 8, 2017 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

Viewpoint - March 8, 2017

Guest opinion: Live up to your principles; end the Pig Scramble

by Bonnie Yoffe and Lorien French

We are Woodside residents who love our town and feel fortunate to live here — we appreciate its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle, the civic engagement of its residents and the friendly greetings we receive while walking our dogs on local trails. We value the vibrant equestrian culture here and enjoy seeing horses in our midst as part of the everyday fabric of our neighborhood. One of us is a horse owner whose daughter is an avid equestrienne.

We wish to speak now to the Mounted Patrol from the heart. We are members of the Committee for Humane Woodside, and understand that our committee's efforts to eliminate the Pig Scramble event have made you fearful that your way of life is under siege; this, however, is not the truth. We honor you and your dedication to horsemanship and promoting equestrian pursuits. We salute your history and commitment to ongoing public service. We recognize you as a valuable community asset and a source of local pride.

We also have common ground with you. We have a deep respect and appreciation for animals, in particular service and farm animals, who give so much to us.

For this reason, we are against the mistreatment of any animal and we wish to see an end to the Pig Scramble. There is a much different understanding of animals nowadays than was prevalent in the 1950s through 1980s. A pig "scramble" doesn't align with modern farm animal welfare standards or best practices.

The Mounted Patrol has argued that "we don't speak pig" so how do we know these animals are suffering? Here's how: professionals in veterinary medicine, animal behavior and animal agriculture understand that body language tells us when a creature is in distress or is suffering. And don't we all know when our dogs or horses are scared, hungry, or stressed and need our care and attention?

It is the same with pigs — they are prey animals who are frightened by loud noises, rough handling and sudden movements. The young pigs in the "scramble" repeatedly squealed and ran toward safety. They tried to hide under their transport trailer only to be forced back — dragged, or in some cases thrown haphazardly onto the arena floor. All the while, they made high-pitched continuous vocalizations that are expressions of extreme stress in pigs. These pigs were clearly communicating their fear and distress during the "scramble," but sadly, no one was listening.

This activity constitutes animal abuse and cannot be given a pass as "entertainment." The Pig Scramble, held at the annual July Fourth Rodeo, is not even part of the Northern California Jr. Rodeo Association's lineup of activities, and the association does not sanction it.

We and 150-plus Woodside residents have signed a petition seeking to end this event. Hundreds within neighboring towns have also signed. Thirty Peninsula-based veterinarians have signed a statement opposing this activity.

Mounted Patrol, why not replace this activity with one that is engaging and educational, and encourages kids to interact with animals with respect and kindness rather than chase small, frightened pigs for a trophy? This would be in keeping with your highest principles as men who value and strive to act as good stewards of horses and farm animals. We and many other folks here in Woodside will gladly support this event.

Town Council, please demonstrate that you do not support this abusive activity by passing a resolution condemning animal scrambles in Woodside. Alternatively, you can wait until public outcry against this inhumane event becomes so loud that the cost to ignore it outweighs the benefit. Other localities and one state, Minnesota, have passed laws that effectively ban cruel and pointless animal "scrambles" or similar events. Fairs and rodeos in both the U.S. and Canada have voluntarily dropped animal scrambles in response to turning public sentiment.

Woodside can be a model for a vibrant, modern town that embraces the best of its rural heritage while respecting the animals in its midst and championing their welfare. That is a winning combination for horses, pigs and people.

Dr. Bonnie Yoffe of Woodside has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 30 years, the last 20 as city veterinarian for the city of Palo Alto. Lorien French has a horticultural consulting and fine gardening business based in Woodside. She and her dogs have volunteered in canine-assisted therapy at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital for over 10 years. Both authors are Committee for Humane Woodside members.

Comments

Posted by Eric Mills, a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Kudos to Dr. Yoffe and Ms. French for a sensitive commentary, one which should benefit the pigs and the Woodside community alike. It should be noted that an on-line CARE2 petition to drop the Jr. Rodeo's pig scrambles has to date garnered 25,000+ signatures from around the Bay Area, California & the world. This is NOT helping Woodside's image as a caring and compassionate community.

The pig scrambles are undeniably cruel (and not allowed for that reason at the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Castro Valley, since 1986). See the many YouTube videos, if in doubt. And consider the following statement from Dr. Temple Grandin, world-renowned expert in the field of farm animal welfare:

"In assessing criteria for suffering, psychological stress which is fear stress, should be considered as important as suffering induced by pain. Fear stress is highly aversive, and subjecting an animal to intense fear stress would be very detrimental to welfare." That's "pig scrambles" in a nutshell. Some two dozen local veterinarians have already signed a statement in support of a ban. The "scrambles" need to go.

It is hoped that the Woodside Town Council will agendize this humane issue in the near future. They need to hear from a concerned public.

WRITE: Tom Livermore, president, and members, Woodside Town Council, Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA 94062; email - council.members@woodsidetown.org

NOTE: California Education Code 60042 mandates that "humane education and kindness to animals" be taught in the public schools. These "scrambles" are a blatant violation of that mandate, and send a terrible message to impressionable young children. Local school teachers need to take a stand on this humane, ethical and moral issue.

Sincerely,

Eric Mills, coordinator
ACTION FOR ANIMALS
Oakland


Posted by kimmy, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 7, 2017 at 6:24 pm

The Committee for Humane Woodside has repreatedly attempted to both talk with the Mounted Patrol and to ask the Town Council to put this matter on the agenda since last summer. It is not clear to me why the resistance to compassion has been so strong, but the Town Council really needs to hear from you, especially if you are a Woodside resident. If you have seen the Pig Scramble at the Mounted Patrol rodeo, you will know just how upsetting this event is to both piglets and anyone who has the slightest empathy with baby animals. This is an outdated , barbaric practise and has no place in the culture of Woodside. Please write : Tom Livermore, president, and members, Woodside Town Council, Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA 94062; email - council.members@woodsidetown.org

It is time to get this on the agenda.


Posted by Katie Cather, a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2017 at 7:15 pm

Wonderful Guest Opinion. The huge elephant in the room is the Mounted Patrol with their intransigent and insensitive digging in their heels when they don't have to. Their apparently belligerent refusal to stop pig scrambles, and insistence on teaching children that bullying and animal abuse is just fine, has made a whole lot of folks wonder about MP members' own integrity, ethics, and moral compass. Perhaps the even bigger problem that breeds the pig scramble is the fact that rodeo itself is a cruel, exploitation of animals who cannot speak for themselves. Rodeo activities were almost never practiced on ranches, so heritage and tradition claims are completely bogus. Foolish animal entertainment with suffering, innocent beings should be banned and replaced by healthy, willing humans competing only with other humans in safe and non-abusive games.


Posted by Bette, a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Ms. French and Dr. Yoffee have written an excellent article worthy of the deepest community regard and respect.
During our current times of acceptance of political violence, there is a an ever growing gneed for models and guides for compassionate action.
The mounted patrol might consider a shift in emphasis wherein the baby pigs are enabled to have experiences of caring and kindness rather than cruelty. When the town of Woodside had the day for honoring horses they turned toward right action and direction.
I hope Woodside will consider the lifelong deleterious effects upon children's psyches by involving them in animal abuse.

Bette Kiernan, MFT


Posted by Do-Gooder, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:27 pm

That is such an eloquent guest opinion and it seems completely sincere. What arguments can the Mounted Patrol make for hanging on to the pig scramble event? Making money?? We have done it for years? Hmmmmm. Maybe it's time to let it go and find an alternative.


Posted by What is pig scramble? , a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 7, 2017 at 9:20 pm

Eloquently written opinion piece, but the authors have not made any effort to explain what pig scramble is. I asked my neighbors in Woodside Glens but no one has any idea what pig scramble involves. My understanding is the authors are concerned because they think that pigs are abused in an event that is supposed to be entertainment.

If the authors are so against the use of animals for entertainment, how come they hide behind a double standard and speak so highly of equestrianism? Do they have any idea how young horses are abused to tame them for the entertainment of so called equestrians? Do the authors have any idea about the pain a horse endures while getting nailed with horse shoes ? Have the authors seen any wild horses in nature? Horses are herd animals. They are supposed to roam the fields freely with their own families. They should not be confined in barns away from their herds waiting for the human to show up and ride on them. Their spinal cords are not even suitable to carry the weight of a human (and as far as I can see in Woodside, a lot of equestrians are overweight, obese women and men riding on the delicate back of a horse). Horses were not meant to carry humans on their backs.

If we humans are so evolved that we stand up against the abuse of pigs in an entertainment event, then we should just be as furious about the use of horses for human entertainment.A chic name like "equestrian" should not blind our eyes to the fact that riding on horses is animal abuse.


Posted by Bonnie & Lorien, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 7, 2017 at 10:03 pm

In response to the comment from "What is a Pig Scramble?":

For those who don't know what a pig scramble is, here is a link to a video taken of last year's event:

Web Link


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2017 at 9:19 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Woodside is a community. It is time for the community to step up and insist that our Town leaders make it definite that in Woodside animal abuse is not permitted. No one needs to feel threatened. The junior rodeo is not being challenged. The Mounted Patrol is not being challenged. One non sanctioned event , the pig scramble, is being challenged. In 2017, how can anyone ignore the fact that animal scrambles are abusive?
Woodside Town leaders, simply need to watch the video of last year's July 4th pig scrambles. Those baby animals were trucked into our Town with everyone involved knowing that those piglets were here to be treated inhumanely. The Town needs to be embarrassed.
Time for the Woodside Community to demand action to stop animal abuse in out Town.


Posted by Roland, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

Roland is a registered user.

I attended Woodside 4th of July Rodeo with my two young children several years ago. I had no knowledge of a pig scramble until the event started.

During the event piglets were chased, dragged, kicked, tackled, jumped on. Terrified piglets ran under their trailer in between the rounds only to get dragged out by Mounted Patrol staff. My kids and several kids around us were in tears begging their parents to help the piglets whereas parents of kids competing in the pig scramble were cheering for their kids as if in a movie scene portraying a dystopian society that considered public torture as entertainment.

Yet it was not a movie scene. It was cold blooded reality of adults cheering for their offspring to abuse, torture and terrify baby animals.

Woodside Town Council has to ask what type of moral and ethical values do we teach our children by allowing pig scramble take place in Woodside and what type of a community do we become if we permit public torture of animals as entertainment.


Posted by kim2381, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:19 pm

kim2381 is a registered user.

Thank you , Roland, for this perfect description of what it is like to witness the Pig Scramble. It is wonderful to hear from a parent in this forum - many parents have told me this in person. After I first witnessed the pig scramble some years ago, I tried alone to get it stopped. No luck, of course. But now, as a member of the Committee for a Humane Woodside, I am hopeful that community pressure, especially from local parents, will convince the Town Council to put an end to this violent and cruel abuse of baby animals.


Posted by Sujatha Ramakrishna M.D., a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Sujatha Ramakrishna M.D. is a registered user.

Re: the Mounted Patrol comment about not speaking "pig."
Human beings have many forms of non-verbal communication, and we can tell when others who don't speak our language are suffering just by looking at their body language and listening to their cries. Signs of distress in human and non-human animals are quite similar.
Children who think it's OK to ignore piglets' cries while manhandling them will do the same with their peers on the playground. If you don't care about the pigs' feelings, at least think about the kids.


Posted by lorileno, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 9, 2017 at 8:41 pm

lorileno is a registered user.

The pig scramble is reprehensibly cruel and outrageous! I cringe whenever I have witnessed this atrocity towards pigs/piglets. It's completely shocking that the town hasn't forbidden this cruelty and just as much so that it is legal in the first place. But since it is, it is incumbent on the town to do what is right; what is compassionate. To end the pig scramble is what is called for, here and anywhere else.


Posted by Longtime Woodside Resident, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Mar 10, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Longtime Woodside Resident is a registered user.

It is time for the Pig Scramble to end! The Mounted Patrol needs to quit burying their heads in the sand just to make a few bucks. Email the Council Please!
We need to teach our children kindness to animals and not drag them through the dirt by their legs.


Posted by SteveC, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Perhaps someone should invite the SPCA to the pig scramble this year. Lets find out how entertaining they think this activity.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2017 at 7:41 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

In order for the Humane Society to stop the pig scramble, the event needs to be not permitted or illegal. The Town of Woodside needs to say that animal scrambles, in this case, the pig scramble is not permitted within Town limits. So at this time, this abusive event is legal. the Town Council needs to hear from the community. Council.members@woodside Town.org


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


To post your comment, please login or register at the top of the page. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

 

Meet the winners!

The results are in. Check out The Almanac readers' favorite foods, services and fun stuff in the area.

View Winners