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.