My Turn: It’s time to put an end to pig scrambles

  • Children try to chase down running piglets during the “pig scramble” at the 2006 Deerfield Fair. AP file

For the Monitor
Saturday, August 26, 2017

Imagine 20 young dogs in the middle of a fenced-in arena, with hundreds of human beings screaming and yelling surrounding these scared canines on all sides. Now, imagine a group of overly excited children let loose in that arena in order to chase, jump on, grab and pull on these young dogs in order to stuff them in a burlap bag in as short a time as possible. This is a contest, this is entertainment and this would be considered animal cruelty to these domestic dogs.

However, this is done regularly at state and county fairs across the nation to young pigs or piglets. The Deerfield Fair especially loves its 30-plus-year tradition of what are called “pig scrambles.” There are several of these pig scrambles spread over the four-day fair and across all age groups, even up to adults.

I have a petition out to the governing board of the Deerfield Fair asking members to reconsider these pig scrambles. It has more than 60,000 signatures. If the governing board does not reconsider, we are holding a protest at the fair on Sept. 28.

Sadly, there are so many people who think an antiquated tradition is more important than stopping cruelty. A person commented online that they thought the pig scrambles were cruel until “someone” pointed out to them that this is how piglets are handled on farms and it doesn’t hurt them. Who is this someone? A farmer? A fair organizer? If you are pulling a piglet hard in one direction and that same terrified piglet is pulling in the opposite direction with all of its little will power, it is going to get hurt. A testament is all of the squeals these piglets emit when they are being pulled, grabbed and jumped on.

Take this contest for what it is. Look at just the facts. Little pigs are chased down and are scared the whole time. Some of the videos and pictures of previous pig scrambles are heartbreakingly depressing. These are intelligent mammals; they are sentient beings and have already been taken away from their mother for this exploitation. If you would not abide by this cruelty happening to dogs, why is it okay for equally intelligent (actually even more so) pigs to be treated thus cruelly?

Ye,s I am vegan and do not consume meat, eggs or dairy. I try to do the least harm as possible and co-exist instead of lording over. However, that is not what I am requesting here of you. I am only trying to plant that seed of compassion for these little piglets. Please consider boycotting the Deerfield Fair as long as they hold these pig scrambles. Look to other fairs like the Hopkinton Fair instead, which does not hold these cruel events.

It is progress not perfection that is the imperative and never-ending goal. Progress is evolving that compassion toward other species and giving them a reprieve from any terror that is inflicted upon them when we can.

We can keep these piglets from being terrorized in the name of “family fun” and at the same time teach our kids a very valuable lesson. When a human is compassionate toward animals, it follows that they will be compassionate toward their fellow humans as well.

Just give it a try. In this day and age, we really need to more than ever.

(Kristina Snyder lives in Chester.)