News

Woodside: If pigs could talk, what would they say about 'pig scramble'?

 

If animals could talk, not just with each other but across species, it might be interesting to hear their views on being chased. There is chasing while playing, but if you're a prey animal, is there a marked difference between running from a hungry lion and running from an angry zebra?

That question has come up in Woodside with respect to the domestic pig, an animal noted for its intelligence. Pigs understand mirrors, can herd sheep, can do circus tricks, and can play video games, according to a 2009 article by New York Times science writer Natalie Angier. Pigs are also slow to forget, she wrote.

Slowness to forget may have been on display at the annual July Fourth "pig scramble" at the junior rodeo hosted by the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County. Three groups of children in three rounds took turns chasing a group of maybe 20 young pigs around a dusty arena. The prize for catching and detaining a pig: winning a ribbon or an award.

In the first two rounds, as seen in a video provided to the Almanac, the pigs left their trailer and gathered in a herd and meandered around in the open before the chase began. On the third round, though, the pigs hung around the entrance to the trailer and tried to re-enter. Rodeo hands pushed them back out and sometimes tossed them out, but the pigs persisted. If they weren't trying to get back in the trailer, they were hiding under its low-slung floor.

"To me, that was very telling," said Shani Campbell, an animal rights activist from the East Bay on the scene. "(The pigs) made a very clear choice. They did not want to participate. ... It's not OK if the animals are forced. That's teaching the kids a very very wrong message."

"It was clear to me that they'd just had enough," said Pat Cuviello, an animal rights activist from Belmont who accompanied Ms. Campbell to the rodeo and shot the video.

"I don't like any aspect of the rodeo," Ms. Campbell said, "but the pig scramble, to me, was horrifying. They are docile creatures. They are gentle creatures. No animal wants to be chased. No animal wants to be tackled."

Rodeo arena boss Michael Raynor, who said he grew up raising pigs, said that scared pigs are wide eyed and kicking up sand. The pigs in the pig scramble were staying just ahead of their pursuers, an indication that they're not scared, he said. Scared pigs "really start being evasive. They're running for their lives," he said.

(For the record, the video shows the chased pigs kicking up sand and being significantly evasive.)

As for their emotions, Mr. Raynor called humanizing animals a common mistake and said that pigs are not psychologically harmed by the chase. "They don't have the complicated emotional overlay that humans have," he said. "I'll pick one up and a second later it's half asleep in my arms," he said. "It's just here and now (for them). It's not a long term effect. They know people. They like people."

Mr. Raynor explained the pigs' hiding under the trailer as normal. Pigs like to lay together in piles, he said. "I just think they found a place that is nice and shady and a tight spot, as in 'We've got a quiet spot in here. We're going to lay in a pile.'"

Talking about pigs

The pig scramble became a visible cause this time around. Rodeo patrons were greeted at the gate by people holding signs denouncing the event as unkind and cruel to pigs and a toxic example for children on how to relate to animals.

"We got lots of support and definitely increased awareness about the pig scramble event," Woodside resident and protester Belle Stafford said in an email. "There was a steady stream of cars, many were supportive, many kept looking straight ahead, an indication that we made them uncomfortable," she said.

The Patrol "were actually very nice to us," Ms. Stafford added, noting a box of bottled water the Patrol had given them. Mr. Raynor said he walked out and spent time talking with them, a happenstance that Ms. Stafford confirmed.

Opposition to the pig scramble had been in the air. Six days earlier, opponents complained to the Town Council, which listened but could not act since the matter was not on the agenda. Among the arguments: that the event is "a painful, terrifying, and dangerous ordeal for the pigs," that it is "undoubtedly cruel," and that it is "antithetical" to aspirations of mutual respect for all creatures.

On that occasion, pig scramble boosters also spoke. Terry Welcome, captain of the Patrol, called the event wholesome and reflecting a Western tradition that celebrates "independence, hard work, responsibility, compassion for animals that help to do much of the ranch work, and camaraderie." A veterinarian and member of the Patrol said he'd seen no injuries to the pigs over the years.

The council asked staff to research the issues and consider possible courses of action.

Comments

24 people like this
Posted by Susan Wyle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 12, 2016 at 11:56 am

In this most recent article about the Mounted Patrol 4th of July Pig Scramble, Dave Boyce writes"Mr. Raynor explained the pigs' hiding under the trailer as normal. Pigs like to lay together in piles, he said. "I just think they found a place that is nice and shady and a tight spot, as in 'We've got a quiet spot in here. We're going to lay in a pile.'" With all respect to Mr. Raynor, this is flat out nonsense. Woodside residents, please take a look at the video of the moment Mr. Raynor is referring to, the third round of the pig scramble where pigs are clearly being shoved, tossed, dropped, and held by their tails upside down as they are tossed out of the trailer. The piglets who have been tossed out are not quiet, nor are they lying "in a pile " under the trailer, but are desperately trying to get away from the people shoving them out.

Web Link

California Penal Code 597 states that no person shall " torment" an animal. What would the pigs say? I think they would certainly say they were being tormented. Please write the Town Council to express your outrage that this practice continues in Woodside. Emails should go to council.members@woodsidetown.org . Please lend your support to the movement to ban the pig scramble!!





30 people like this
Posted by Eric Mills
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Thanks to reporter Dave Boyce for his fair and balanced coverage.

Worth noting that, for the baby pigs, these "scrambles" are merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse. Must we therefore also torment and terrify them before we eat them? Not acceptable! The State Education Code (60042) mandates that "humane education and kindness to animals" be taught in the public schools, K-12. These "scrambles" are a blatant violation of that mandate. Kids and animals alike deserve better.

I saw the video footage. The stockhandlers were even rougher on the piglets than were the kids. One even lifted a pig by the tail and threw him/her off the trailer. Again, not acceptable.

Minnesota has a state law banning ALL such "scrambles"--pigs, calves, chickens, whatever the species. The Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Castro Valley also bans all "scrambles." Woodside and all California should follow suit.

CONTACT: Woodside Mayor Deborah Gordon and the Town Council, email - council.members@woodsidetown.org

NOTE: The Woodside Town Council meets TONIGHT, Tuesday, July 12, 7:30 p.m. in Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA. Express your concerns during Public Comment, first thing on the agenda.

The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County (sponsor of the Jr. Rodeo) may be reached at email - info@mpsmc.org

All state legislators may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814. Legislation is in order to stop this cruelty, and San Mateo Senator Jerry Hill would be a likely author. Let him hear from you!

Sincerely,
Eric Mills, coordinator
ACTION FOR ANIMALS
Oakland
email - afa@mcn.org


23 people like this
Posted by daleyfarm
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jul 12, 2016 at 12:15 pm

As a Woodside resident, I feel the Pig Scramble needs to go. It is not the way we should teach our children to act with animals. The pigs are frightened and it is just wrong to treat another animal like this for "fun".


27 people like this
Posted by Woodside Glens Resident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jul 12, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Pigs are sensitive, intelligent animals - they can solve puzzles and are smarter than dogs. Watch the video and you will see that Michael Raynor's comments are simply false. Terry Welcome's comments that this rodeo event is "wholesome" and reflects "compassion for animals" are beyond ludicrous!

The pigs are kicking up sand and being evasive, hence they are scared and clearly not enjoying being chased, dragged and tackled by a pack of screaming children. They are being held and pullee by their hind legs and were forced to come out of a safe place to "participate" in this ridiculous and cruel event that passes as entertainment (and also makes money as kids pay a fee to participate).

Michael Raynor is not an animal behaviorist, nor is he a veterinarian. Many veterinarians, including a prominent one from UC Davis, have denounced this event and said it is stressful and potentially physically harmful to the pigs. There are many objectionable events in Rodeo culture. The Pig Scramble and events like this involving children are particularly odious as they teach children that it is ok to be unkind and abusive to animals for "fun." These events have been banned in several states and also in several California counties. It's time for Woodside to get it together and do the right thing. The Town Council will be hearing from me.


25 people like this
Posted by Long time Woodside resident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jul 12, 2016 at 1:01 pm

The jury is in with regard to the veterinary community and farm animal husbandry experts that these kinds of "animal scrambles" are inhumane and harmful. Now the town council must decide which side of the issue they feel is morally defensible. What kind of reputation is Woodside to have with its residents and the larger community? What do we want to teach our children?


3 people like this
Posted by Michael Raynor
a resident of Woodside School
on Jul 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm

This video is from 2012, it is a video depicting methods, pigs, and people that we no longer have involved. The pigs we have now are free range pigs supplied by a Ranch in Carmel Valley. The video depicts containment raised pigs. The children were directed to capture the pigs but not drag them, they were also instructed that these pigs are easier to catch if you walk up to them, not chase them. Since this video, we have changed the pig handling, the event organizer, the pig supplier, and the handling instructions. We have never had a pig or child harmed during this event and we are rapidly moving forward to educate and further enhance the safety and enjoyment of this event. We received many compliments on the scramble this year and heard many people talk about how well it was run.


25 people like this
Posted by Susan Wyle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 12, 2016 at 3:27 pm

I am sorry, Mr Raynor, but that video is most certainly NOT from 2012. Dave Boyce confirmed with the video producer that it was from 2016, and we have two eyewitnesses who saw these actions live at the rodeo. We would neither make such a rookie mistake nor be as dishonest as to use an old video. This is the point - there IS no kinder, gentler version of the pig scramble, despite your well - intentioned efforts to make it so.


21 people like this
Posted by Donna Aronson
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

I have visited Hidden Villa many times over several decades. I am a docent at Deer Hollow Farm in Santa Clara County.
We have five piglets from Hidden Villa at Deer Hollow on loan right now.
Baby animals are always happily greeted by the many visitors, and the summer campers. The farm campers appreciate the care and feeding of these animals. Respect and concern for the health and comfort of farm livestock is the lesson, not chasing, frightening, grabbing and even injuring animals.
What does the Pig Scramble teach kids?


29 people like this
Posted by Eric Mills
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 5:09 pm

A statement by Dr. Nedim Buyukmihci, Prof. Emeritus from UC Davis, and veterinarian (printed in a July 6 ALMANAC article, "Woodside pig scrambles: Residents, veterinarians debate issue," bears repeating:

"Pigs are prey animals and consider being chased an existential threat. Being chased by screaming people, regardless of age, will cause extreme stress for the pigs...Further, restraining or suspending pigs by their legs is not only painful in itself, it can lead to dislocation of joints which adds to the pain and suffering endured.

Treating pigs in this manner is undoubtedly cruel. The people involved as well as the audience may be 'enjoying' themselves, but at great cost to the pigs. Allowing such treatment teaches children and others, by example, that is acceptable to use nonhuman animal in general and pigs in particular for any human purpose, regardless how trivial and even when such is potentially dangerous to the animals. Our society desperately needs to foster a greater respect for the other creatures with whom we share this planet. Pig 'scrambles' are antithetical to that aspiration."

This is a "no-brainer," folks. BAN THE PIG SCRAMBLES.

x
Eric Mills, coordinator
ACTION FOR ANIMALS
Oakland

And a P.S. - The claim above from the Mounted Patrol that the video in question is not from the 2016 Woodside Jr. Rodeo is absolutely false.


25 people like this
Posted by lorien
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jul 12, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Michael Raynor's comment about the "mistake of humanizing animals" has no merit. Biologists and animal trainers well know that animals are sentient creatures who experience stress and feel pain. Many animal species have complex social communities, culture (such as usage of tools), and communication systems. Lots of animals - such as pigs - also remember and avoid that which is painful or stressful to them. One doesn't have to "humanize" or project human qualities onto an animal in order to practice kindness towards it. It is especially reprehensible for adults to teach children to mistreat any animal - which is what the Pig Scramble does. On a positive note, our collective thinking about the appropriate treatment of animals has changed markedly within the past several decades - soon rodeos and any display or entertainment that is abusive, stressful or harms animals will be a relic of the past.


25 people like this
Posted by Ursula Berg
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 12, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Most of us parents amd grandparents tell our children to be kind and gentle to all animals and never, never hurt them. And here are adults putting on this horrific pig scramble, encouraging the kids to terrorize young pigs and disregard the animals' fear and pain. What kind of society is this? What are you teaching the impressionable children? This barbarity must stop!


25 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I am so tired of hearing nonsense from the Mounted Patrol Cowboys. It is time for the Woodside Town Council to listen to the Woodside Community they represent and pass an ordinance prohibiting any animal scramble in the town of Woodside. These abusive events involve baby animals being mistreated by children . What does the Woodside community need to do get the Council's attention. STOP THE PIG SCRAMBLES!


23 people like this
Posted by Susan S
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Susan S is a registered user.

We would never let kids chase puppies around and grab their legs. Why do we allow this kind of cruelty to pigs? This sends the wrong message to children.


21 people like this
Posted by Palominogal
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Palominogal is a registered user.

This event is disgusting. There needs to be a better way to engage kids in life other than by abusing animals. No wonder kids get screwed up at an early age, turning info problem teens then sociopathic adults. All sense of empathy and respect for life is trained out of them by brainless adults who have themselves lost their moral compass. Kids love animals. It's the parents who mess that up with events like this travesty. Shame on all the alleged adults involved.


19 people like this
Posted by Palominogal
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Palominogal is a registered user.

Disgusting event and shame on the alleged adults promoting it to kids. Animal abuse. Child abuse.


21 people like this
Posted by DoGooder
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm

DoGooder is a registered user.

Thank you Dave Boyce for reporting the truth about what happens at the pig scramble. Of course the Mounted Patrol is going to characterize it as "harmless fun" for everyone, even the piglets, but the reality is far from that. It seems to me the rodeo organizers can come up with a different event for children that doesn't involve terrorizing baby animals. The rationale that there is a long history of abusing animals for entertainment doesn't hold water in this day and time. Time to evolve!


23 people like this
Posted by Linda Middlesworth
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 6:11 pm

No animal wants to be chased and or thrown around. They just want to be with their friends and family...just like humans or your own pets. They do not deserve to be tormented. They have feelings just like your dog or cat does. In fact, pigs are intelligent beings who only want to be free from harm. If you would not want your dog in the scramble, then please stop this barbaric practice. You are teaching children that pigs have no feelings and do not mind being scared or harmed. This causes a complete disconnect and they grow up to be uncaring adults to these docile beings.


19 people like this
Posted by pcuvie
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm

pcuvie is a registered user.

Michael Raynor is falsely claiming that the pig scramble video posted by Susan Wyle is from 2012 when in fact it was taken just over a week at the 2016 Woodside Rodeo. I have personal knowledge of this fact because I took the video. However, it is telling to note that Mr. Raynor expresses distaste for the methods used in the video. An insider's assessment of the 2016 pig scramble, which is in agreement with the opposition.


20 people like this
Posted by DJ
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jul 13, 2016 at 7:22 am

I am inspired by the people who are speaking up for the animals who cannot speak for themselves. We can make this a win-win-win situation by ending the pig scramble, providing an alternate activity for kids to interact with animals, and teaching our children to respect all living beings.

It should not matter whether or not this being is intelligent. It is a living being. We would not accept treating a human who is challenged in the same manner.

Thank you to Woodside's City Council members, the Mounted Patrol for listening to those who raise this issue. The time has come to end this hurtful activity.


26 people like this
Posted by DoGooder
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 13, 2016 at 8:38 am

DoGooder is a registered user.

It seems appropriate to share this beautiful quote by Pope Francis in his 2015 Encyclical on Climate Change:

"It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty toward any creature is contrary to human dignity."


26 people like this
Posted by Terry Koch
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2016 at 9:35 am

Thanks for a great article and the peaceful activism around animal abuse masquerading as wholesome family entertainment in Woodside. The pig scramble obviously teaches kids the wrong message about how to treat animals and should have been ended a long time ago in an enlightened society.


21 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 13, 2016 at 10:34 am

pogo is a registered user.

To the Mounted Patrol -

First, I take no position on this issue but this is over for you. Welcome to 2016 where these sorts of events are no longer tolerated. Hey, they used to sell cigarettes to patients in hospital rooms, too. The sooner you get your arms around this (pun intended), the sooner you can develop other events. Perhaps the kids can play dodge ball.

But for those of you so anxious to condemn this practice, be advised that there are those among you who think that riding a horse or keeping any animal penned in a stall - or eating them! - is also abuse. So be ready. This won't stop with pig scrambles.


14 people like this
Posted by Laurie Powell
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Laurie Powell is a registered user.

Dear Pogo: You "take no position on this issue" yet feel compelled to warn those who condemn the pig scramble that "this won't stop with pig scrambles," as if it would be a BAD thing for us to continue examining our use and treatment of other species. Societies evolve over time and, hopefully, become more just and compassionate. We have and should continue to question our use and treatment of others (other races, classes, genders, age groups, those with different abilities and orientations, other species, the environment we share.)

Are you recommending the pig scramble be left intact lest it lead to a slippery slope of greater respect and caring for others? We are all connected in this web of life. Separation is an illusion. The way we treat seeming "others" impacts and colors our own life experience. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a good guideline for our behavior.

Maybe next year, the kids can chase the organizers of this event and those in favor of it. The pigs did not give consent.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 13, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Laurie:

if you're going to truly live by the golden rule, you're going to starve. After all, even if you're vegan, you're killing plants that have never done anything to you.


12 people like this
Posted by terri
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 13, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Thank you for this article. A pig scramble might seem a small thing to spend energy on considering all the fighting that is occuring in the world, but it's exactly why there is a need put a halt to the pig scramble. The idea of a pig scramble is to give children fun, but at what cost to the sentient beings, the baby pigs?
In today's world, it has been proven that pigs do feel physical and emotional pain. So much so that several states have banned pig scrambles all together. By teaching children that hurting an animal is ok, what message are we sending? It's NOT ok to cause injury or harm to any living being, animal or human. Why not use the opportunity to educate our children to nurture animals and one another, rather then cause pain. Come on we are smart people - we do NOT live in the past when this was allowed. Have we not advanced in our thinking?


8 people like this
Posted by pcuvie
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2016 at 5:31 pm

pcuvie is a registered user.

Menlo Voter - "To any [person] who finds it equally easy to chop up a live dog and a live lettuce I would recommend suicide at [their] earliest convenience!" Konrad Lorenz.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 13, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

pcuvie: completely ignoring the point.


Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 13, 2016 at 9:58 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Laurie -

I take no position on a lot of issues - Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Brexit, Lionel Messi's tax problems, etc. With everything going on in the world right now, Woodside's pig scramble just didn't make my cut.

I only have so much ire to go around.


9 people like this
Posted by Laurie Powell
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2016 at 1:11 am

Laurie Powell is a registered user.

Menlo Voter: We all know intuitively that there are differences between plants and animals.

If their house is on fire, a family is more concerned about animals left inside than they are about the herb garden and sprouting seeds on the kitchen counter. People are more likely to stop their car to help an abandoned puppy on the side of the road than they are to stop for an abandoned house plant, and more likely to intervene if a neighbor is neglecting her dog than if she is neglecting her lawn.

But if you consider plants & animals equivalent, rest assured that fewer plants are killed for plant-based diets. It takes 12 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. More people can be fed on a plant-based diet, and it is best for human health and the environment. If you are truly concerned about plant welfare, you could choose to eat a fruitarian diet (by harvesting fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds without killing the plant.)

I brought up the Golden Rule because it is a good guideline for our treatment of other sentient beings (those with brains, consciousness and the capacity to suffer.) The Golden Rule renders the Pig Scramble OBSOLETE.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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