Woodside: Pig scramble protesters are in it for the long haul


A relatively quiet but highly visible protest of the annual pig scramble at the July Fourth Junior Rodeo in Woodside drew reactions that seemed to have little to do with the protesters' longtime concern: that encouraging children to chase small pigs in an enclosed arena is a lesson in bullying for the children and terrifying for the pigs.

"Trump, Trump, Trump!" one man shouted from a pickup truck as he drove by a group holding a protest banner at the corner of Kings Mountain Road and Woodside Road. "I love bacon!" shouted others. Also heard from passing traffic: "Booo!" and pig-like squeals.

"Get a life," was yelled out to a group of children holding signs and chanting "Pig-gy jus-tice, pig-gy jus-tice," and "Chase dreams, not pigs. Chase dreams, not pigs."

"We've got a life," a girl said to a now-empty road. "We're here, we're now. We're exercising our First Amendment rights."

The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County hosts the rodeo and continues to put on the pig scramble, frustrating an effort of at least a year by the local residents who make up the Committee for a Humane Woodside to deny the Patrol the right to hold the event. Pig scrambles are not illegal, but Committee members consider them cruel.

Patrol spokesmen -- the group does not accept women as members -- say the event is popular with children and so memorable that participants treasure the token awards they're given for capturing a pig. The Patrol also argued that ending the pig scramble would be the first step in a campaign to undermine Western cultural values in Woodside -- an assertion that Humane Committee members regularly go to some lengths to refute.

Asked about this year's July Fourth rodeo and the protest, Mounted Patrol Captain Victor Aenlle said via email that he had no comment.

Lorien French of the Humane Committee described the protest as having gone smoothly. About 25 people participated, all from Woodside or nearby, she said. "There was no menacing or threatening behavior toward us," she said in an email. "We appreciated the Sheriff's presence and the cooperation of the Town in making it a success."

The protest banners were new this year. They are "really sturdy vinyl," Ms. French said. "We can re-use them. We might be needing them."

The weeks leading up to the 2017 rodeo had acquired a threatening tinge. On June 6, an attorney representing the Patrol warned would-be protesters in a letter that they could be subject to criminal trespass charges were they to protest on Patrol grounds this year. (Pig scramble protesters in 2016 may have been standing on Patrol grounds.)

Town Manager Kevin Bryant worked with the Humane Committee, Sheriff's Office deputies and the Patrol to determine a safe protest spot along the road at 521 Kings Mountain Road.

The public right-of-way turned out to be a 15 foot-by-22-foot wooded area just east of the Patrol gate, Ms. French told the Almanac. Protesters also gathered at the intersections of Woodside and Canada roads, and Woodside and Kings Mountain Road.

During the 2016 protest, rodeo officials came and talked with the protesters and brought them water to drink. Not so in 2017. This reporter noticed just one Patrol member conversing quietly for a few minutes with the protesters, saying that they're being "extra sweet" to the pigs this year.

"I think he was trying to bond," one woman said after the Patrol member left.

Video of this year's event by KPIX CBS 5 News did not show children being rough with the pigs.

Pig scramble organizers said they instructed children to be gentle for the 2016 event, but a video showed the pigs being physically tossed from their trailer as they tried to get back in at the start of the third round of being chased.

Kids debate

At the main gate, a group of boys came out and hung around for several minutes, playing with sticks in the dust and eventually engaging in a conversation about the pig scramble.

One boy who said he was from Oakdale (in Stanilaus County) told this reporter that he would be chasing pigs. When asked what he would do, he said: "Tackle the pig."

His companion immediately recalled instructions to treat the pigs gently. "When we get one," he said, "we have to hold it by it's back legs ... so we don't hurt the pig."

Some back and forth ensued about what was to be done next, including walking the pig back to its trailer on its front legs, like a wheelbarrow. The boy who spoke about not hurting the pigs said he recalled being told to just hold the pig until an adult came by.

The boys were asked where they were from. "Nevada," one said. It was around that time that their consensus changed to one of pushing back at the questions.

A protesting girl advanced forthrightly and told the boys that the pig scramble was "a cruel and inhumane event that hurts the pigs."

"We don't hurt the pigs," the Oakdale boy said. "All we do is grab them."

"They're babies," the girl said.

"No, they're not," the boys said.

"They're supposed to be eaten," the Oakdale boy said. "The pigs are just going to go to the butchers."


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42 people like this
Posted by Eric Mills
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Some "traditions" deserve to die, the abusive "pig scrambles" among them. All such animal "scrambles" have been banned at the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Castro Valley since 1986. The "scrambles" may not be illegal, but they are undeniably cruel. Since the Woodside Town Council can't find the backbone to do the right thing, perhaps it's time for a county-wide ordinance and/or state legislation.

A statement from renowned animal behaviorist, Dr. Temple Grandin bears repeating: "In assessing criteria for suffering, psychological stress--which is fear stress--should be considered as important as suffering induced by pain." For most of these animals, rodeo is merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse. They (and we) deserve better.

All rodeo animals are "prey" animals--as such, they fear for their very lives when chased, roped, ridden, dragged, jumped on or otherwise handled roughly. And the piglets are mere BABIES! Imagine the public outcry were puppies or kittens mistreated thusly. But hey! As one Mounted Patrol member said, "What's the big deal? They're all gonna be barbecued whole within two weeks anyway." As Tennessee Williams once wrote, "Cruelty is the only unforgivable sin."

NOTE: The Peninsula Humane Society and more than 30 local veterinarians have voiced their support for a ban. And an on-line petition has garnered more than 25,000 signatures. The powers-that-be should listen to the experts and the general public. And their conscience.

Mayor Tom Livermore and the Woodside Town Council, email -; tel. 650/851-6790

Captain Victor Aenlle, San Mateo County Mounted Patrol, email -; tel. 650/851-8300

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, 400 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063; tel. 650/363-2802


Eric Mills, coordinator

22 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 5, 2017 at 5:01 pm

The rodeo, including the pig scramble is a great tradition. I guess we will look forward to the tradition of protesters holding their signs for years to come. Free Speech is wonderful, it is when a tiny group of people try to dictate what everyone can do that becomes a problem.

31 people like this
Posted by Eric Mills
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2017 at 5:14 pm

For "BRYAN" - With all due respect, Sir, the issue is NOT "freedom of speech." The issue is CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, and all in the name of "entertainment," God forgive us. Please re-read my comments above, esp. the quote from Dr. Temple Grandin. These piglets are already en route to the slaughterhouse. Must we torment and terrify them before we eat them? And you don't have to be a vegetarian to care. Where's the local religious community on this ethical and humane issue, pray?

Lastly, simple "tradition" justifies nothing. I come from a part of the country where slavery, incest, wife-beating, dog fighting and worse were "traditional" for many years. Again, some "traditions" deserve to die.

25 people like this
Posted by Shrek
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jul 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Eric - how many protesters came from that humane wonderland of yours, Oakland CA?

Glad everything us all fixed up in your home town and you have plenty of time to enlighten Woodsiders....

44 people like this
Posted by Linda
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm

That was actually a pretty good turn out for the protestors. I saw groups of people along the road as well. Not many people like to stand up and protest. There are many more who stayed home, but also don't agree with this silly tradition. Good job to those of you who showed up to protest.

33 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2017 at 6:03 pm

pearl is a registered user.



Individual Supervisors:
Dave Pine-District 1:
Carole Groom-District 2:
Don Horsley-District 3:
Warren Slocum-District 4:
David Canepa-District 5:

29 people like this
Posted by Eric Mills
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2017 at 6:10 pm


Their mailing address is 400 County Center, Redwood City, Ca 94063; tel. 650/363-1802.

The Board meets every 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. Animal advocates are encouraged to attend and speak during the "Public Comment" period. Urge the board to adopt a county ordinance banning all animal "scrambles," "wild cow milking," the children's "mutton busting" event and all other non-sanctioned rodeo events. The Peninsula Humane Society and more than 30 local veterinarians are on record in support of the "scramble" ban. Let's make it happen!

40 people like this
Posted by Woodside Resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 5, 2017 at 6:46 pm

While I respect the right of all voices to be heard, I simply have to disagree with the opinion that the pig scramble is in any way cruel and inhumane. I attended the rodeo and witnessed all the events. Nothing that I saw was even close to what I would call "animal cruelty".

I've lived in Woodside almost 20 years and I've never met a person here who did not care deeply about the welfare of animals. In fact, having growing up in the midwest I've never seen a town that takes care of its animal population like Woodside does.

I'm not a member of the patrol, but each time I've interacted with them I've found them to be some of the nicest people I've ever met. Many thanks to them for being outstanding members of our community, and for hosting the rodeo again this year.

Congratulations to all the competitors who worked so hard and did so well!

31 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jul 5, 2017 at 9:11 pm

There are some misconceptions about why the pig scramble is being protested.
It is not about trying to dictate to others how to run their lives.
It is not about attempting to destroy traditions.
It is not about how the animals are treated outside of the corral or what will become of them after the scramble.
It is not about freedom, legality or the status of property.
In short, it is not about you; it is about the psychological, and possibly physical, well-being of human children and non-human babies.
Let's assume that there is no physical harm done to the pigs. Even so, they are prey animals, so are instinctively terrorized and attempting to run for their lives when they are being chased. Have you ever been scared to death? It's like that. If you doubt that anyone really knows what the pig is going through, look at your own dogs and horses. Don't you often have a pretty good idea what they're thinking?
The human children are taught kindness and that bullying is wrong (at least we hope they are). Then they are told that bullying can actually be fun and is OK in this case. This is a mixed message that children should not be subjected to. Their innate empathy for animals should be encouraged, not suppressed.
The protest is about kindness and compassion, plain and simple.

34 people like this
Posted by Porky
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Not only is the Mounted Patrol out of step with a modern understanding of animal cruelty, but the organization as a whole is our own local dinosaur: a club that doesn't allow women to be members.

There may be laws against their misogyny: As a 501c they get a public benefit, and there is no legitimate basis for their gender discrimination. They shouldn’t exclude women in this day and age. What are they, living in the 60s, along with Don Draper?

32 people like this
Posted by Gwen
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 6, 2017 at 6:58 am

Hundreds of residents of Woodside and neighboring towns have let it be known that they want the pig scramble stopped, not allowed in Woodside. They are not speaking out against the rodeo, but probably will not pay admission as long as there is a pig scramble. Attendance at the rodeo will increase when the pig scramble is removed. A rodeo is where animal handlers demonstrate their skill involving animal handling. The competitors are demonstrating traditional animal handling skills. Children chasing, tackling, dragging, terrifying, and injuring piglets is not western tradition. The pig scramble is animal abuse. The Mounted Patrol needs to listen to the Woodside Community. stop the pig scramble.

29 people like this
Posted by Compassion
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 6, 2017 at 8:02 am

animal abuse should be vilified, not celebrated- shame on the mounted patrol for perpetuating this clearly cruel event. Get with times and man up to the reality that times have changed and animal abuse is no longer socially acceptable to most people.

18 people like this
Posted by Hypocrite
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Animal Cruelty? For those who scream animal cruelty, you must all be vegan. You must be against the slaughter of animals for your eating and fashion pleasure. Hypocrites !

26 people like this
Posted by shocked
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2017 at 2:42 pm

I lıve ın Marın County.Bay area news on TV covered Woodsıde pıg scramble. I was shocked. Pıg Scramble?!!!! Serıously? Woodsıde? Is thıs a communıty stıll lıvıng ın the mıddle ages or what? Shame on you woodsıde!

16 people like this
Posted by J
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jul 6, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Woodside is the only home I have ever known-- I was raised in close-in downtown central Woodside-- and I am now 60+ years old. There are plenty of us who have long been against the pig scramble. For me, it is simply in part a matter of the good old fashioned upbringing that so many Americans used to be raised with. Whether it was being with other children, or interacting with the many critters we Woodsiders have always enjoyed living along side, I can still hear my excellent mother counseling: "Be nice, now... be nice." That pig scramble is anything but being nice. And I think that quite a few of us know this.

15 people like this
Posted by Hypocrite
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 6, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Slaughter a cow, kill pigs and chickens long as you say "Be nice, nice", all is good.

Wake up. As long as you don't see the animal cruelty, it's ok with you!

26 people like this
Posted by Independence Day
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 6, 2017 at 8:17 pm

For many years our family and extended family attended the July 4th Rodeo in Woodside. Our children always insisted on participating in the Pig Scramble. During their childhood we never witness a pig injured or harmed. Our family has very positive memories of the tradition of attending the Rodeo and in the evening watching the Redwood City fireworks.
This year we went back to the Rodeo to watch after some years away. The grandstands were as full as I have ever seen and the Pig scramble was also as full of children as I can remember. The event was well run and harmless to the pigs.
I understand the right to protest but also try to remember that people should have the right to choose. Ironic that this controversy is happening on Independence Day. I respect the protestors objecting, but please do not say we who allow our children to participate are not good parents. That argument holds no water with the parents who now have grown children that are well adjusted adults that care about animals and people as well.
Choosing for the rest of us is not the American way. Your first amendment rights are in tact, but remember it works both ways. The community needs to rally around the Mounted Patrol and thank them for the work they put in to host the Rodeo. The last thing we need is for them to give up and Sell the property for a half dozen "country estates sites". With the price of real estate for 25 acres surly they could buy a club property in a community that welcomes them and the pig scramble.

18 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2017 at 8:22 pm

I am so glad I left Woodsıde years ago. I remember the pıg scramble the mounted patrol promoted when I was a kıd. I was horrıfıed the fırst tıme my parents took me to the 4th of july rodeo. I am not a bıt surprısed Woodsıders stıll entertaın themselves by terrıfyıng pıgs, ropıng calves, and abusıng anımals. Woodsıde ıs a town wıth a hıgh proportıon of rıch people who thınk havıng money entıtles them to abuse anımals.

20 people like this
Posted by Vet
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 6, 2017 at 10:02 pm

I have watched the Pig Scramble at the Mounted Patrol for many years. I have never noticed a pig being damaged. They are always picked up - still squealing - and placed back in a trailer. I never noticed a pig laying on the ground or seemingly injured. What I have noticed is the excitement of the children at every event.

I can appreciate animal rights people, I applaud their efforts to stop animal testing for cosmetic reasons. But on the other hand, I have a real question when they are concerned about a rat being tested to save a life.

In this case, I think the animal rights people are stepping over the boundaries. I don't care so much about them protesting but some of them ave become deceitful and liars with some of the statements they make - "kids being predators" - come on.

Indeed the Pig Scramble could be maybe looked upon as a sport. Yes they are chased but they are not shot at, killed or maimed.

Animal rights people please protest something that makes sense. Yes you have a pretty big group but there is a bigger group that may be looking at you as fools, attention grabbers and trouble makers.

20 people like this
Posted by Sad
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jul 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I can not understand why the Mounted Patrol ınsısts on offerıng the pıg scramble as part of the july 4th rodeo. Chasıng anımals and terrıfyıng them ıs NOT an Amerıcan tradıtıon and should have no place to celebrate the ındependence of our great natıon. The pıg scramble has become the ugly face of Woodsıde. It has become the defınıng element of Woodsıde ın the Bay Area. My famıly was embarrassed for our Town when the medıa once agaın covered the pıg scramble as they dıd last year as part of the July 4th celebratıons ın Woodsıde.

Mounted Patrol leaders! Please hear us! Please be a good neıghbor and end the pıg scramble.

16 people like this
Posted by Boycott
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jul 7, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Boycott the sponsors of the July 4th rodeo untıl the Mounted Patrol elımınates pıg scramble. Do not re-elect the same people to the Town Councıl. The Town Councıl could have stopped the pıg scramble long ago. Keep ın mınd Dave Tanner one of the Town Councılman ıs a major sponsor of the pıg scramble.

8 people like this
Posted by Oldresıdent
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jul 7, 2017 at 3:57 pm

If I were ın my younger days, I would start a hunger strıke ın the mıddle of the Town center untıl the mounted patrol ended the pıg scramble. I am ın my late eıghtıes unfortunately and not ın good health.

8 people like this
Posted by JoeBlow
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 3:58 pm

[Post removed. Poster using multiple names on thread.]

10 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2017 at 5:12 pm

pearl is a registered user.

To "Boycott" and "JoeBlow" -

Thank you for the information and for the list of sponsors. I will BOYCOTT them for sure! And everyone be sure to vote Dave Tanner, Woodside Town Councılman, and major sponsor of the pıg scramble, OUT OF OFFICE!!!


14 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Boycotting our few remaining locally-owned, small businesses? Brilliant idea.

Maybe we can replace Buck's and the Parkside with an Applebee's or Chili's or our hardware store with a Home Depot or OSH.

You folks need to direct your energies differently. Hurting our local businesses? You are insane for even floating the idea.

13 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 5:19 pm

pogo is a registered user.

On the other hand, I heartily endorse those who want to do a hunger strike.

16 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm

pearl is a registered user.

To Pogo:

Yes, boycott the businesses that supported this event. Why reward their bad behavior by patronizing them?


7 people like this
Posted by hypocrates
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 10:34 pm

hypocrates is a registered user.

Don't ever visit a slaughter house,

Suggest you become vegetarians,

Not quite sure how you judge/protest some animals as being being cute and loveable and pets and others terribly abused, such as cattle, horses, chickens, pigs, and have no trouble eating them.


With limited time available to us, I suggest you focus on the homeless, shutins, poor education, violence in schools, Go be a volunteer, Get outside your ivory mansions and use your time for real community needs. Then visit a slaughter house in your spare time and get back to me.

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

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