Woodside pig scramble: Opposing views


A group of Woodside residents under the banner of the Committee for a Humane Woodside is calling on the Town Council to ban the traditional pig scramble, when kids chase and capture pigs, at the annual July Fourth Junior Rodeo in Woodside. The group says the event is inhumane.

Such a change in the rodeo would be the first step in a campaign to undermine Western cultural values in Woodside, according to the captain of the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County, which hosts the rodeo.

The February 2017 edition of the Patrol's newsletter doesn't mince words. "Our pig scramble is under attack," Patrol Captain Victor Aenlle wrote. "There's a movement aimed at putting an end to one of our longest running traditions. They claim that this event is stressful and cruel to the pigs. Do they speak pig? I believe this is an attack on an American tradition and western culture. We will take a stand and continue to fight and maintain our 4th of July traditions."

"Western identity and culture is far deeper than one event," resident Lorien French of the Humane Woodside committee told the town's Livestock and Equestrian Heritage Committee recently during a discussion about whether the pig scramble is cruel to pigs and a lesson in cruelty for children.

The council is likely to address the pig scramble at its March 28 meeting, Town Manager Kevin Bryant told the Almanac.

The pig scramble involves three rounds, in which about 12 pigs are released from a trailer and chased around the arena by 30 to 50 children. When a child manages to capture a pig, an adult is supposed to carry it back to the trailer, but the overall scene has aspects of mayhem about it.

In a January 2016 letter, Ken White, president of the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, said: "Although this 'event' may not in itself violate State anti-cruelty laws, there is no question that (the pig scramble) is a barbaric and inhumane activity which is passed off as some form of entertainment."

The Humane Woodside committee formed after Dr. Bonnie Yoffe, a resident and veterinarian, read about the pig scramble on NextDoor Woodside, Ms. French told the Almanac. Three Woodside residents and one former resident form the group's core.

"We have sought to raise local awareness about this inhumane activity mostly through circulating petitions and reaching out to the Town government," Ms. French said in an email. A petition the group is circulating that asks the council to stop the pig scramble had 139 signatures of Woodside residents as of March 1, member Jennifer Gonzales said.

The Livestock Committee is appointed by and advises the Town Council on livestock and equestrian matters. On a 7-0 vote on March 1, the committee approved a statement to the council saying that the pig scramble "does not meet the highest ideals" and that the committee would "encourage modification" of it.

A few Patrol members attended the meeting, but quietly. ""We're here to listen, and we'll be at the Town Council (meeting)," Patrol member Scott Dancer said.

What can council do?

In January, Mr. Bryant told Livestock Committee members that despite there not being a state law banning pig scrambles, the council had the discretion to ban them in Woodside.

Town Hall has had second thoughts, Mr. Bryant said. The Patrol has a use permit that allows rodeos. While the pig scramble is not officially sanctioned by the Northern California Junior Rodeo Association, which runs the Woodside rodeo, the town has not made a practice of discriminating between sanctioned and non-sanctioned events, Mr. Bryant said.

Town Attorney Jean Savaree is looking into the possibility that the Patrol has "grandfathered in" rights, Mr. Bryant said. A grandfather clause is a legal concept that protects activities by a permit holder that are ongoing and that would be outlawed by a new law.

No compromises

At a previous Livestock Committee meeting, two women -- not members of Humane Woodside -- offered to try to find a compromise.

Mr. Aenlle, who said he talked with one of them, said he was under the impression that she was a Humane Woodside member. He said he offered to put the pigs in a corral before the event to allow children to interact with them, and to have two Humane Woodside members in the livestock trailer to ensure that the pig wranglers handle the pigs gently.

Commenting on the corral idea, Ms. French said in an email that the scramble should be replaced by an activity that, if pigs are involved, would teach children to "handle them humanely and respectfully and would not involve chasing or attempting to capture them."

As for the offer to monitor pig handling, Ms. French said Humane Woodside would not be put into the role of "monitoring an unsanctioned, inhumane rodeo event year after year."

Emotional maturity?

The pigs used in the chase are about 4 months old, free range, weigh about 30 pounds each, and have been weaned about two months earlier, arena manager Michael Raynor told the Almanac. Many, but not all, are sold within a week after the event to be roasted whole, Mr. Raynor said. "The pigs are about at full size for their intended purpose when we use them at the scramble," he said.

A video from the 2016 event shows pigs in the first two rounds assembling on their own, far from the trailer, then heading off as a group as the chase begins.

In the third round, this routine broke down as the pigs clustered around the trailer door trying to get back in. The pig wranglers sent them back out, sometimes unceremoniously: The video shows that several were bodily tossed out. One was picked up by the tail. One landed on its cheek. Several pigs subsequently hid under the trailer and had to be dragged out.

Were they reacting to being chased and handled during the first two rounds? In an interview, Mr. Aenlle insisted that each round involves different pigs. "You don't know what pigs are going to do," he said, responding to a question as to why the third-round pigs acted as they did.

There were 26 pigs in all, Mr. Raynor said in an email. "We order and pay for enough pigs that each pig only goes one round. ... The pig owner does sometimes put a couple of the already used pigs out for a second round if they are particularly active and more difficult to handle. Most of the time the pigs only go out once though. We have enough pigs to only use them once."

Livestock needs to be handled to build "emotional maturity," a notion not obvious to people from urban backgrounds, Mr. Raynor said. "The livestock is less stressed when it is exposed to handling, exposed to being caught and released," he said. "The premise of (the pigs) being terrorized and becoming harder to handle is erroneous. It doesn't work that way. They are easier to handle after the experience, not harder."

As for the pigs hiding under the trailer, the use of the word "hiding" is "not an accurate evaluation of the circumstances," Mr. Raynor said. "In general, pigs won't go to open areas but will more likely try to hide under structures, brush, or trailers. In this case, the trailer was a likely place. This is true in any situation, pigs are more comfortable when they are near structures, not in the open."

"It's very unusual for animals to want to get back into the transport trailer," Ms. French told the Livestock Committee, citing a comment from the author of the pig-handling section of a pork industry handbook.

More bullies?

San Rafael-based pediatric psychiatrist Sujatha Ramakrishna emailed the Woodside Town Council in February. "If (children) are taught that tackling and dragging a squealing pig is 'fun,' they won't understand why pulling a yelping puppy's tail and pummeling a crying boy in gym class are not also 'fun,'" Dr. Ramakrishna said.

Child aggression toward peers and family members can lead to criminal behavior, she said. "The last thing that we need ... is the creation of more bullies by encouraging kids to manhandle those who are in audible distress but cannot defend themselves."

"Not all psychiatrists are created equal," Mr. Aenlle said when asked to comment. "I think that's a pretty far stretch that she made. ... A pig scramble, for a pig activist, is not going to look nice," he said. "That doesn't mean it's evil."

Evil behavior requires malicious intent, he said. "Just because you're chasing an animal around doesn't mean you have malicious intent. (The children) are smiling. They're happy (and thinking) 'I've never been able to do something that's this fun,'" he said.

Asked to comment on children chasing foals rather than pigs, Mr. Aenlle described it as apples and oranges. "One of them, we eat," he said. "It's on our table every day. It's livestock."

"We respect all animals," he added. "We just don't see a pig scramble (as) disrespectful to the pig. We love all animals."

Pigs are stressed when "chased, grabbed or tackled" by children, Ken White of the Humane Society said in his letter.

Stress is normal for livestock, Mr. Aenlle said repeatedly. "I wouldn't word it as 'kids chasing pigs,'" he added. "'Kids having fun with pigs' or maybe the other way around, 'Pigs having fun with kids.'"


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16 people like this
Posted by Roberto
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 10:42 am

Roberto is a registered user.

If you lived in Texas this would not be a discussion. In Texas, the feral pig population causes millions of dollars of damage annually. Permits to hunt or trap are given by the state. Web Link
What I could not find, in the massive effort to simply maintain the current pig level in the south is the association of chasing or killing them with cruelty to animals or humans. That citation would be interesting. Dr. Ramakrishna certainly makes a bold statement, but then again she lives in CA and not the 38 states and Canada that have pig problems. Almanac: please see if Dr R., Ken White, or any of the efforts above have any citations directly related to pigs (not animals in general).
To be clear, I am not an advocate of this, but I am not opposed either. I do believe that some of the statements made about pigs are said without a factual basis - that is my opposition.

36 people like this
Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Hopefully those individuals who support this horrible "tradition" do not have pets or children.

23 people like this
Posted by makin' bacon
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm

You hope the parents in "38 states and Canada that have pig problems" do not have children or pets?


41 people like this
Posted by Srini
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I assume that those who oppose this event, also oppose calf roping at rodeos. I mean, how pathetic is that event?

54 people like this
Posted by terri
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 15, 2017 at 1:23 pm

The times they are a changing and it's time to treat ALL sentient beings in a humane manner. There is no value in hurting a pig, or any animal. Someone said, it does not matter because they are killed afterwords. Well, we all die, so does that allow us to harm others while living? Would like to see the rodeo be a place that people can learn about animals, their behaviors, etc. STOP the pig scramble for something that is more relevant to today's needs, e.g. kindness, service to others, etc.

23 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 15, 2017 at 2:02 pm

My hometown was known for their yearly Rodeo. It never had a pig scramble, so I don't know what "Western culture" or tradition the Patrol is referring to. And besides, times and circumstances change. Our culture has thrived with capitalism and its relative, competition, and now many are looking for success and change through cooperation, often to reduce the sometimes devastating or draconian results with the former thinking.

Quit attending the Rodeo when young, mainly due to calf-roping, though most events had no cruelty.

55 people like this
Posted by Terri
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm

The pig scramble should end. I have lived in Woodside for 38 years and took my 2 young children at the time to the Woodside Jr. Rodeo years ago, after seeing the pig scramble and being so disturbed by it, we never attended the Rodeo again. I am so glad to see people are now starting to do something about this barbaric tradition and calf roping should be next, another barbaric tradition. We live in the 21st century, treating animals humanely should be common practice by all and we should be teaching our children to do the same.

51 people like this
Posted by Palominogal
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Any thinking parent knows this "pig scramble" event is animal abuse. Thinking parents won't let their kids participate in this travesty. So, here's an opportunity for thinking parents to take the lead on this issue: Take a stand and don't sign your kids up to take part. No kids, no scramble. Done and done. That will give the "organizers" of this worthless event time to regroup and reflect on their poor judgment and callous indifference toward animals, and eventually (hopefully) see the light.

18 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Pigs are smart. Maybe smarter than some humans.

Web Link

36 people like this
Posted by john q. public
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 3:50 pm


WRITE: Mayor Tom Livermore and the Woodside Town Council, Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA 84062;


28 people like this
Posted by Alise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Bringing in veterinarians and pig experts, etc. to study and comment on this shows that common sense isn't so common anymore. Supporters of this event are trying to tell you that you're not seeing what you see. This is more about differences in values than anything else.

40 people like this
Posted by kim2381
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 15, 2017 at 4:08 pm

kim2381 is a registered user.

As one of the organizers of last year's 4th of July Rodeo protest of the pig scramble, I was able to talk to Michael Raynor before the event. He assured me that the pigs would not be dropped, dragged, or abused in any way. Two hours later,you can see on the video that the pigs were indeed treated atrociously. The Mounted Patrol knows full well that we of the Committee for a Humane Woodside have NEVER at any time suggested we are trying to shut down the rodeo, stop any sanctioned events, or attack " American tradition or Western culture." And as for the children having fun, how much fun would it be for these children to realize that the baby pigs they are chasing have a week to live before being slaughtered and "roasted whole," without even having a chance to live a short life? Surely Woodside has evolved past this sort of " entertainment"?

38 people like this
Posted by Longtime Woodside resident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 15, 2017 at 4:23 pm

The comments made by Patrol Captain Victor Aenlle and Mr. Raynor are beyond absurd. They are pathetically feeble attempts to rationalize their promotion of animal abuse as "entertainment" (and as a means of making money for the Mounted Patrol). Just because these young pigs are ultimately used for meat does not justify animal cruelty by inflicting pain, stress, and terror upon them. The food production industry has standards that require the humane handling of livestock. Shouldn't the Town of Woodside????

37 people like this
Posted by Woodside resident
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Mar 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm

THANK YOU to the Almanac for your online articulate editorial against the pig scramble. I hope the Woodside Town Council has the moral fortitude to ban such scrambles in our town and reflect 21st century humane values toward animals. Whether a dog, cat, horse, pig, or other companion or farm animal, they all deserve to be handled and treated with respect and not abused for the sake of entertainment. Let's lead by example and show our kids that bullying, whether towards people or animals, is not OK.

35 people like this
Posted by Shelley
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Semantics will not change the fact that a pig scramble is a barbaric practice. Describing it as "kids having fun" rather than "kids chasing pigs" is laughable. And the idea that this is a long-standing tradition that must be preserved, is a particularly weak argument as through history we have rightfully rid ourselves of other barbaric, sick traditions: slavery, human sacrifice, cannibalism. Have the organizers ever heard the term fight or flight? Pigs being chased by screaming children are fleeing for their lives. I hope the Town Council votes to end the pig scramble.

19 people like this
Posted by reblsys
a resident of Woodside High School
on Mar 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm

We are all 'terminal'.
Abuse is never justified...especially as 'fun'...

34 people like this
Posted by lorien french
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Mounted Patrol Member Michael Raynor's comments are shocking in their mischaracterization of how to handle livestock. They are also patently false. Livestock do not benefit from being chased, dragged, dropped, thrown by the tail or subjected to any of the other rough treatment that is clearly visible in the video of last year's pig "scramble" activity. Stressed livestock are indeed harder to handle and this creates a greater safety risk for both humans and the animals under their stewardship. In fact, the primary objective nowadays in farm animal management is to promote "low stress" handling - for prey animals like pigs this requires calm voices, no sudden movements, staying out of the pig's blind spot and other specific guidelines that vary based on a particular animal's physiology. (Check out the work of Temple Grandin for more information on this.) The completely off base and uniformed comment implying that rough handling of the young pigs at the scramble is building "emotional maturity" has zero merit and is entirely at odds with veterinary best practices and current farm animal welfare standards.

As objections are raised, the Mounted Patrol continue to change their responses to whatever will serve them and the truth doesn't seem to be a factor. Raynor initially said that the pigs were being handled humanely and more gently in 2016, when eyewitness accounts and the video proved him wrong, he tried to argue that the pictures were from several years ago. Next, the Mounted Patrol argued that "we don't speak pig" so how do we know that the pigs are under stress. It was then pointed out that animals do communicate their emotional state very effectively through body language as well as vocalizations (as anyone who owns a dog or horse knows), and that the pigs in the scramble were exhibiting a state of "extreme stress" according to animal scientists and swine behaviorists. Accordingly, Raynor is now suggesting that this handling is "building emotional maturity" in pigs and will make them "easier to handle". It saddens me that a group of grown men are so attached to an inhumane, outdated activity that shows utter disregard for these poor creatures that they are willing to make ridiculous and unsupported statements to avoid taking responsibility for the cruelty that is plainly visible in the video. The Mounted Patrol further portray themselves as "victims" whose traditions are at stake. The pigs are the only victims here. Pig "scrambles" are not a Western tradition - honesty and integrity arguably are. Why not stay true to the latter ideals and replace this event with something that teaches respect and proper care for animals?

31 people like this
Posted by john q. public
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 7:48 pm

The only "emotional immaturity" being expressed here is coming from the cowboys. Truly mind-boggling.

And speaking of animal behaviorist Dr. Temple Grandin, consider this:

"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 very detrimental to welfare."

The scrambles need to stop.

20 people like this
Posted by Pat Cuviello
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm

Patrol Captain Mr. Aenlle [part removed; please comment without personal attacks] ... insists "that each round involves different pigs." The video evidence of the 2016 "pig scramble" shows that the same pigs were used in all three rounds of the "pig scramble." I was there and witnessed the pigs being put into one trailer after each round and then being pulled out of that same trailer for the next round. Arena manager Michael Raynor also resorts to falsehoods to defend his support of the "pig scramble. when he said, "In general, pigs won't go to open areas but will more likely try to hide under structures, brush, or trailers. In this case, the trailer was a likely place. This is true in any situation, pigs are more comfortable when they are near structures, not in the open." If this statement is true why were the pigs running out in the open area before the first two rounds and then running under the trailer for the third round. It was obvious to me that the pigs had enough of being manhandled by the third round as they didn't even want to come out of the trailer, and when they were pulled out of the trailer they ran under the trailer to hide. They then were pulled out from under the trailer for the third round. When people believe they need to resort to lying to support their position it is a clear indicator that even they know their position is indefensible.

28 people like this
Posted by Siri
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 15, 2017 at 8:24 pm

I have been a resident in Woodside and Portola Valley for a few decades. It is very difficult for me to comprehend that the community like Woodside where relatively educated and enlightened people reside, is having this discussion in 2017! The Mounted Patrol is a true embarrassment to the community, their lack of integrity and ethics.

Mahatma Gandhi once stated that the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. And the civility of the community such as Woodside is also judged by the same notion. It is enormously saddening that the community of Woodside is not clearly getting it by allowing the the Mounted Patrol to practice this horrific event for years.

8 people like this
Posted by bacon shakin
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm

one of my fondest memories as a child was the pig scramble at a local barn fair - lube the porker up and let the kids run at them

it is a rodeo after all - you don't like it do t go!!!

27 people like this
Posted by Lorien French
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 9:38 pm

With regard to Michael Raynor's comment that "each pig goes only one round" - this is also factually incorrect using basic math. There are three rounds. The first two rounds had 13 pigs each. The third was such mayhem as pigs were scattered or hiding and all were clearly in distress that it was harder to count them. There were at least 10-12 though. Three rounds = 36-38 pigs. He has stated that there were "26 pigs in all" and "we have enough pigs to only use them once." This is impossible as 26 pigs would cover only the first two rounds. Eyewitness accounts and the video clearly show that the pigs are used repeatedly, and based on the markings of the pigs, it is highly likely that there is a great deal of overlap or that they are the same group of pigs. None of this matters though as it is the nature of the activity itself that is the problem - "fresh" pigs could be used for every round and it would still be inhumane. In addition, by round three the cries of the pigs are undeniably being heard by the children who are given the message that it is ok to continue to taunt animals who are in distress.

10 people like this
Posted by Committee for Humane Woodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 10:23 pm

Here is the URL for the 2016 pig "scramble":

Web Link

27 people like this
Posted by Sujatha Ramakrishna, M.D.
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2017 at 5:03 am

With all due respect to Mr. Aenlle, he has mischaracterized my quote in this story. Not all criminals have an "evil" i.e. malicious intent. Many times they simply do not understand the difference between right and wrong, and/or they lack empathy for others. That's why it's so important to teach children to have empathy for others, at an early age. This event teaches them the opposite.

36 people like this
Posted by Don Conkling, DVM
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2017 at 8:42 am

As a veterinarian of 42 years experience who is also involved with humane education, animal assisted therapy, and animal rescue and relief, I can assure you that this practice is inhumane and cruel. If you don't believe that, put yourself in the pig's place. Imagine the fear and abuse the animals go through. How would you respond in their situation? Animal abuse is never justified. Are these the values that we want to teach our children? Please put an end to this cruel practice!

23 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 16, 2017 at 9:53 am

pogo is a registered user.

No matter how you feel about the pig scramble, I can assure you that public opinion has changed, the balance has clearly tipped and it is only a matter of time until it ends.

Take it to the bank.

24 people like this
Posted by Sandra
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Mar 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

I could not even watch the video past the first few minutes of children chasing screaming and traumatized piglets. It is clear the members of the mounted patrol who advocate this cruel and barbaric practice care little about the humane treatment of the pigs, but rather only adding to their coffers by using the pigs as toys and entertainment. Not only is this cruel and inhumane, but very backwards as well.

16 people like this
Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Mar 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Retired Realtor is a registered user.

The day the Woodside council "leads by example" I will eat my hat.

21 people like this
Posted by resident for over 60 years in the Woodside/PV Community
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 16, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Well, here are my thoughts. I bet my last wooden nickel that not all members of the Patrol or board members are happy with their current leadership comments or actions. Does Mr. Anelle even own horse or any animals or interact with livestock? Does Mr. Raynor place all his animals under stress? Oh, that is right he claims to be an “extreme” cowboy. Do they have any compassion? Alternatively, know the meaning of? As a long-standing member of the community for over 60 years, I have never seen the Patrol Leadership communicate in this manner and make it all about them and not the community or the Patrol. I think the Patrol Board and members should rethink who is the Captain and who is speaking for the membership, before this wonderful club will no longer be an asset to the community but considered a thorn in its side. I am relieved that my grandfather, father and their other close friends who are no longer with us who were long time members and some of them Captains of the Patrol are not here to see what is transpiring. Oh wait, if they were this would not be occurring, would not be part of the leadership or speaking on the Patrol’s behalf. Heck, when you have a conversation with someone common sense is to know whom you are having a conversation with if this was so important to your club or is this just your personal agenda?

30 people like this
Posted by Pigs
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 16, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Any parent who encourages this animal abuse and teaches their children how to abuse animals by allowing them to participate in the pig scramble need to be held to account. It's a public event, right? If it takes some public shaming to get this practice to end, then let the cameras roll and out the families who condone the abuse. If parents didn't allow their children to participate then the scramble would cease to exist. Micheal Raynor and others who condone animal abuse are not doing the community any favors.

34 people like this
Posted by john q. public
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 16, 2017 at 6:26 pm

One Mounted Patrol member claims that "90% of the kids come from Woodside."

If that's true, then folks should be talking to the principal and teachers at Woodside Elementary School. Other schools, too.

The "pig scrambles" send a terrible message to impressionable young children about the proper and humane treatment of animals, which can lead to even more serious problems down the road. Teach kindness!

28 people like this
Posted by Resident of Woodside
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Mar 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

As a long-term parent and equally long-term pig rights advocate, I wonder whether the individuals involved in this activity could simply create a new activity involving the kids interacting with the pigs in a more constructive (and less terrifying) activity, such as grooming or caring for the pigs in some playful and enjoyable fashion. Animal behavior researchers have known for a long time that pigs are intelligent and emotionally aware creatures. They deserve a better experience.

5 people like this
Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm

I’d like to draw a comparison to the protests, arguments, and tactics put forth by the animal rights activists and those of the anti-abortion crowd.
The animal rights activists cry out that pigs are terrorized and injured, that the event is barbaric, and that it teaches children to be abusive. These same arguments are used by anti-abortionists; that abortion teaches society that it is an acceptable form of birth control, that it is a barbaric act, and that an abortion is physically and emotionally injurious to the mother. It is fair to say that the killing of an un-born fetus is both more terrorizing and has a far more permanent effect on the fetus than a pig scramble has on a pig.
Equally true are the tactics used by both groups; protests with shouting and sign waving – often with graphic pictures of ‘frightened’ pigs or recently aborted human fetuses. Petitions, letter writing, and online forums dedicated to eradicating their targeted activity.
Each group stakes claim to the enlightened moral high-ground demanding that society be dragged to their pious position, all while being flabbergasted that such horrors continue to be allowed in their utopian vision of society.
Yet a large majority of us who live in the liberal/progressive Bay Area sneer nastily at the anti-abortionists as backwards, bible-thumping, intruders into the lives and decisions of pregnant women. We mock their uneducated ‘redneck’ attitudes and seek to deny their closely held beliefs as unworthy and far beneath our superior attitudes.
I don’t recall seeing any discussions in the Almanac seeking to end abortion in Woodside, Menlo Park, Atherton, Redwood City, etc., and were the issue to be raised, it is safe to bet that the same fervor being screamed against the pig scramble would quickly be raised against the audacity to suggest that there might be an issue with abortion. Ironic, isn’t it?
By all means; protest, write letters/emails, and share your feelings (rationally?) with your neighbors: these are your rights as an American. Alternatively, don’t go to the rodeo, don’t allow your children to participate, and don’t watch pig scrambles on the internet. Talk within your family about your beliefs and why you don’t believe in the activity.
Not for a minute do I doubt your sincerity or convictions, just as I don’t doubt the same of an anti-abortionist. I just choose to disagree with both of your insistence that each activity be banned or outlawed based on your righteous indignation.

20 people like this
Posted by kim2381
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

kim2381 is a registered user.

With all due respect, Just A Thought, if you had come to the 4th of July rodeo protest or any of the Town Council meetings, you would know that the Committee for a Humane Woodside has NEVER shouted or waved signs in anyone's faces, although we certainly have shown the Town Council pictures of piglets being held upside down by their tails and dragged by their hind feet. Equating our efforts with any other groups, no matter what is being protested, is not logical or equitable.

26 people like this
Posted by Woodsideresident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 19, 2017 at 1:21 am

I attended the 4th of July Rodeo last year and had the misfortune of watching the Pig Scramble. Yes - pigs were tormented, yes -- Mountain Patrol Staff dragged them by the legs and tails to get them ready for the next round of kids to torment them more. It was public torture of animals for the entertainment of a bunch of spoiled brats and their callous parents.

The real question is can we expect the Town Council of 7 officials to ban pig scramble? The sad reality is the Town Council will do NOTHING. They will come up with some excuse like legality of putting a ban (even though there are cases of other local governments which banned pig scrambles). Sad truth but Mountain Patrol is well connected with the Town Council. Last year the banners of one of the Town Councilman's construction company were hanging in the arena where pigs were tormented. Will this Councilman ever vote against Mounted Patrol ? Of course not. Will his fellow councilmen and women ever do anything that will turn off Mounted Patrol? Never,

I admire the efforts of Humane Woodside group but they don't have a chance. In Woodside connections count, not doing the right thing and saving piglets from getting tormented in Woodside.

26 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 19, 2017 at 8:52 am

Hundreds of Woodside residents are outraged and embarrassed that the Pig Scramble is allowed to happen in their town. They will not attend the rodeo. The Mounted Patrol are seen as a negative group of cowboys who abuse animals to raise funds. If the Mounted Patrol see them selves as a group which is respected, they are out of touch. To the Woodside leaders, you appear to tolerate the non sanctioned pig scramble because you are afraid of the Mounted Patrol . Not only is the Mounted Patrol a negative group, the Woodside government is just as bad. As soon as the Town leaders take charge and listen to Woodside residents, you will say that in the Town animal abuse is not permitted. put an end to the pig scramble.

17 people like this
Posted by Lorien
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 19, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Regarding the comments of "Just a Thought":

These comments are a classic example of a "straw man" argument. You have set up a false comparison that is not only extreme but one which mischaracterizes the position of those who seek an end to animal "scramble" activities in Woodside. Like it or not, society has standards for farm animal welfare that have evolved to include the practice of humane treatment - including the concept that animals under our stewardship should not be subjected to unnecessary suffering or stress. Those who oppose the scramble are not fueled by "righteous indignation" nor are we "irrational" in our line of reasoning. The community of those who oppose this treatment includes professionals like veterinarians, animal scientists, and even those within the animal agriculture industry itself who now embrace a model of "low stress" animal handling. Read the work of Temple Grandin - she is a leading proponent of humane animal treatment within the industry and comes from a purely scientific perspective. No one is shouting, waving signs in people's faces nor do we have a "naively utopian vision" of society. In
fact, we are realists who see the hard work involved in advocating for these animals and get out there and do it. As Victor Hugo said: "nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Look around you and see the many different ways in which Homo sapiens are changing their attitudes and behavior with respect to the treatment of animals. We don't have to "drag people" toward this position. The only ones being dragged anywhere are the unfortunate pigs.

3 people like this
Posted by Ashton
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 19, 2017 at 6:45 pm

While it is hard to know what these pigs are feeling, it seems to me that this event might be the one of the only opportunities in their short lives to actually feel excited. If I was one of these pigs and had to chose between sitting in a pen being bored or getting chased by kids I would chose the chase. Look at videos of piglets feeding, they make the same squealing noise like they are being tortured, when in fact they are just excited about feasting on mama's milk.

17 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2017 at 7:20 pm

This event is shameful. These are intelligent animals who unquestionably experience fear and distress when being chased around in this fashion. Moreover, the event is teaching children who attend the event that abusing animals for our entertainment is not only acceptable but desirable. Canceling the event and discussing why with the members of the community who have supported it would be a valuable educational measure to advanace the cause of animal welfare, even though on the surface this event sounds trivial.Gv2Za

7 people like this
Posted by Roberto
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 20, 2017 at 10:48 am

Roberto is a registered user.

So where is the guide to what is PC today? I noticed in Folsom the kids can no longer play Tag; yet leading child behavior experts state defining natural boundaries is of the utmost importance. Web Link tie this back in, is running with the Pigs bad?, is walking with them or does that cause stress, because it is not another pig (lots to say about that on Google). So if we follow this through, fish should never be in a tank as it does in fact stress them. Mice, of course, should never have poison set out or traps as it is an ugly and painful death.
Where do we, as a society, draw the line and say what is OK and what is not. This becomes an opinion. Again, not favoring the pig chase, but at what level do we say this is ok, this is not. The issue is much bigger than chasing some pigs. I'll full circle back to, is the pigs cause on average in the US about $1B in damage, what line do we draw, whereas, mice and ants do not cause anywhere near that number and we seemingly as a society feel it is ok to chase them away and kill them on-sight.

5 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Roberto: this comment gave me an expanded perceptive of the issue. It could be carried further(circus & other animals/mammals subjected to cruelty in order to perform) without going too far (the raising of chickens, cows, etc., for consumption) and getting off-track.

This issue is in good part about the Patrol and Woodside Council members and what are their priorities, particularly with responding to residents' concerns and preferences.

But I think people can individually think beyond this event and examine their acknowledgement about being aware of consequences and benefits (consider pesticides and bees, etc.), or not being aware. I wonder whether we've become desensitized to our own feelings, esp those that don't feel so good.

16 people like this
Posted by WoodsideWoodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 21, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Pig Scramble is on March 28 Agenda of Woodside Town Council. The Town Council meets at Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road.

Meeting starts at 7 pm.

Please attend the meeting to show your support for finalizing an embarrassing chapter in Woodside history.

Public torture of animals for the sake of entertainment should have no place in Woodside.

4 people like this
Posted by WoodsideWoodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Correction to my previous post. Woodside Town Council meets at 7:30 pm.

14 people like this
Posted by Judi Kiel
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:07 am

Please stop the pig scramble! It is painful to watch this animal crueltry for the sake of entertainment! It would be much healthier for children to come away from the Mounted Patrol with appreciation for all animals. To watch these baby pigs tramatized and suffering is barbaric, depressing and disrepectful of these sensitive and intelligent animals.

11 people like this
Posted by Amy Macphree
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 22, 2017 at 1:54 am

Scramble Keepers -- Have you ever BEEN to a scramble?

Our family went to one 10+ years ago thinking it was more of a petting zoo. It was horrific. Children screaming as they tackled PIGLETS, then dragging them over to a truck where a handler would take the babe and give the child a ticket. Our daughter who was 5 at the time couldn't bring herself to tackle any of the piglets so she found food and gently tried to lure the the babe into the truck, only to have a handler toss it back into the yard for other kids to capture.

Maybe this exercise is necessary to teach farm hands how to wrangle pigs on working farms, but it has no place in the suburbs passed off as entertainment.

14 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 1:02 pm

It is time for the community to let the Town Council know that there should be no more pig scrambles in Woodside. It is also time for the community let the Mounted Patrol know that until they remove the pig scramble from the or 4th of July Rodeo day that you will not attend. This is all about money. The Mounted Patrol have refused to consider alternate events to take the place of the pig scramble. It must be a huge fund raiser. Money seems more important that public opinion, so they need to lose money when attendance drops at their fund raiser. Let the Town Council and the Mounted Patrol know how you feel!

1 person likes this
Posted by WoodsideWoodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Updating my previous post yesterday that announced that the Pig Scramble was on the Agenda of March 28 Woodside Town Council Meeting.

I just checked March 28 Agenda on the Town's website,, Agendas/Minutes link. Pig Scramble was removed from the Agenda.

I will keep on checking and will provide an update if anything changes.

5 people like this
Posted by WoodsideWoodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Pig Scramble is back on the Agenda of Woodside Town Council, March 28, item 10, the last item on the Agenda, copied below.

10. Discussion on Pig Scramble at Annual July Fourth Junior Rodeo Held at the Mounted Patrol.

5 people like this
Posted by Woodsideresident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 28, 2017 at 11:32 pm

I hate to say I was right but Woodside Town council did exactly what I thought they would do. They did NOTHING. 3 of them recused themselves. The remaining four, except Councilman Yost, echoed each other supporting Mounted Patrol.

5 people like this
Posted by WHITNEY
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 25, 2017 at 6:33 pm

I now live in LA but my parents still live in Atherton with other family members. My mom sent me articles about this as she knew i would be interested. I am an animal rights activist, animal rescuer (17 years). I do street Trap Neuter Release and have intervened on many inhumane situations to create positive change. I was APPALLED that this "Pig Scramble" abuse is going on in Woodside! I thought Northern California was far more humane than LA but Au Contraire! I am reading the same ludicrous justifications that one would hear in any deeply rural and uneducated, unenlightened community. Furthermore, how especially gross and nauseating that these baby pigs last "event" in life is to be chased around by children being encouraged to be callous and insensitive to their obvious stress and fear--RIGHT BEFORE they are slaughtered to be Roasted "Whole." A very well researched rebuttal to the whole "Pig Scramble" issue was written by an 11 year old girl who confirmed that it has ZERO roots in any "tradition" but the people profiting from the hiring of the pigs. That it is concretely cruel treatment via the physical reactions of the baby pigs. The 'Pig Scramble" is supposed to be "for the kids" but the poll i saw taken by children did not show massive support and the 11 year olds rebuttal was an out of the mouths of babes moment. I hope Woodside comes to its senses and bans this disgusting display of human viciousness for animals who already face a barbaric end.

4 people like this
Posted by esthers army
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 1, 2017 at 6:56 pm

for a town that has recently approved an excess of 40million dollars of new building (permitted) per year, strange, not one barn build or remodel...hmmmm, western values?

4 people like this
Posted by blanche smith
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 14, 2017 at 12:35 am

What? This issue is still being debated? Just read the ALMANAC for 6/14/17 and find the Woodside Planning Commission on a 3-1-1 vote declined to take up the question of the pig scramble. Wait! Am I living in a parallel universe? This is San Mateo County, land of compassionate, humane citizenry. Yet no one has the cojones to cry STOP in our own backyard to this cruel "entertainment" noted by Director Jackie Young as it has a "long history In the rodeo". Slavery has a long history too, Jackie, but we got RID of it. Here we are, on a local level, impotent, to excise a very cruel and bad example to our children in the matter of treatment of God's creatures. Right! God! Is that offensive? Wow, are we a bunch of ignorant rubes. We fancy ourselves as so much above the red neck states, don'tcha know? In Woodside, yet!

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

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