Town Square

Guest opinion: Does the pig scramble reflect Woodside's values?

Original post made on Apr 5, 2017

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress is judged by the way its

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Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Apr 5, 2017 at 9:42 am

Thank you, Anna.
Residents of all ages are letting the Town leaders and the Mounted Patrol know that it is time to remove the pig scramble from the July 4th events. It is not a rodeo event. It is abusive to the piglets. It has absolutely nothing to do with tradition.
For the Town leaders who can't recognize animal abuse, you should be embarrassed. Thanks to you, the Town of Woodside is linked with animal abuse.
For the Mounted Patrol, your rodeo will be boycotted when the community stays away to protest the pig scramble.
Anna, I hope the school kids in Woodside let their parents know that they will not participate in the inhumane pig scramble.

Posted by Woodside resident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Apr 5, 2017 at 11:20 am

Thank you Anna for your articulate and well-informed editorial. It is inspiring to see that a young woman like you, at 11 years old, has such strong values and a commitment to making our community a more humane place to live.
I hope your friends and classmates work with you to to stop this abusive event in our town.

Posted by Donna
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Apr 5, 2017 at 8:09 pm

Anna, I applaud you. Your article very clearly hits all the marks regarding this issue. And your question is right on as well. Does the pig scramble reflect Woodside's values? I can only answer for myself and it is a resounding NO!

Posted by Kathryn
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Apr 5, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Anna, thank you for sharing your perspective on this issue. I too believe that all animals deserve to be treated humanely, and I am baffled that the organizers of this event are defending their choice to host it, despite the clear public outcry from our community. It absolutely does not reflect my values - in fact, it's the antithesis. I hope that your article inspires more young people to speak out!

Posted by Eric Mills
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Thank you, Anna, for your kind heart--you are wise and compassionate beyond your years. Here's hoping your essay will inspire your classmates and teachers to take a public stand on this cruelty issue. The pigs are mere babies, and don't deserve this.

FYI, California State Education Code 60042 mandates that "humane education and kindness to animals" be taught in the public schools, K-12. "Pig scrambles" would seem to be a violation of that mandate. Let Woodside Elementary Interim Principal Bob Sherman hear from you, EMAIL - [email protected] Might a lawsuit get everyone's attention? Violation of State Education Code, child endangerment, animal abuse....

Be aware that pigs (like most rodeo animals) are "prey" animals. As such they fear for their very lives when chased, dragged, jumped on or handled roughly. Indeed, world-renowned animal behaviorist DR. TEMPLE GRANDIN, has this to say:

"In assessing criteria for suffering, psychological stress--which is fear stress--should be considered as important as suffering induced by pain." That fact alone should be more than enough reason to ban the pig scrambles. The Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Castro Valley has banned ALL animal "scrambles" since the mid 1980's. Woodside should follow suit. This is one "tradition" that deserves to die.

Woodside Town Council, EMAIL - [email protected]
San Mateo Co. Mounted Patrol, EMAIL - [email protected]
Ken White, PHS & SPCA, EMAIL - [email protected]

San Mateo Co. Board of Supervisors - tel. 650/363-4121 - Since the Town Council has abdicated its responsibility to citizens and pigs alike, perhaps its time for a county-wide ordinance banning ALL such cruelties: "scrambles," "mutton busting," "wild cow milking," et al.

Unless the Mounted Patrol comes to its collective senses, I would urge the largest anti-rodeo demonstration in Woodside history. Local businesses should also be pressured to take an ethical stand; ditto the religious community.

As playwright Tennessee Williams famously wrote, "Cruelty is the only unforgivable sin."

Woodside is better than this, yes?

AND A QUESTION: Are the children charged a fee to take part in the mayhem? Are the "pig scrambles" a money-maker for the Mounted Patrol. Is THAT what this is all about? Some reporters should look into this.

Eric Mills, coordinator
Oakland - email - [email protected]
(with many subscribers in San Mateo County)

Posted by woodsideheightsresident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:35 am

Thank you Anna. You have so eloquently explained why pig scramble is inhumane and it is neither a western tradition nor a rodeo event. I hope the Town Council gets inspired by you and bans the pig scramble.

Posted by Laurie Powell
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2017 at 1:51 am

Anna gives me hope for the future of humanity. At age 11, her view is more evolved than the viewpoint of the elderly event organizers. Children are the future. Thank you, Anna, for your thoughtful and powerful letter. You are wiser than the Mounted Patrol. They have lost their way, but you are providing leadership! I call upon all good people to come to Woodside on the 4th of July to stand together and protest this event. Not only are piglets being harmed but human children are being indoctrinated into a culture of insensitivity, ignorance, disrespect, injustice, discrimination, bullying and violence. What about a parade of our own? The Mounted Patrol's theme seems to be MIGHT MAKES RIGHT, but ours can be MIGHT FOR RIGHT. Anna could be the Grand Marshall! Unlike those riding/using horses, we would march on our own two legs! Let love and kindness prevail!

Posted by kim2381
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 7, 2017 at 4:46 pm

kim2381 is a registered user.

Out of the mouths of babes! Good job, Anna, and you have done your research well! Town Council members should be ashamed of their weak and cowardly stance in the face of all evidence and local opposition. Area residents, please boycott the rodeo this year and join the protest. Anna, we hope to see you there on the 4th of July with other children who know that baby pigs should not be tortured just so that a group of grown men can foster a strange and cruel sense of the " Western tradition!"

Posted by Laurie Powell
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Would we support a puppy scramble? This is no different.

Posted by Linda Middlesworth
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 7, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Pig Scrambles are barbaric, inhumane practices that hurt the animals.Please stop this torture. Using pigs this way teaches children that animals are indifferent to pain and need no love. All animals need protection from harm from uncivilized human activities. Thank you Anna. Social justice for animals is the largest social justice issue since the abolition of slavery. Wake up and teach compassion, not violence to our fellow beings.

Posted by Roland
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 8, 2017 at 12:27 am

Last week the Town Council heard from experts on animal abuse who testified that pig scramble is animal cruelty. Nearly 200 Woodside residents signed a petition to stop the pig scramble, an online petition garnered over 26,000 signatures from people around the world to end the pig scramble. However, the Town Council did nothing.

Anna has asked the question so many of us have been asking: Why does Woodside still allow this event?

If the members of the Town council had the intelligence and compassion Anna has demonstrated in her editorial, they would have banned the pig scramble. Sadly the Council members, except Daniel Yost, demonstrated that they are cold hearted individuals whose level of intelligence and kindness is no match for an 11 year old child.

Posted by Tiffany
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2017 at 11:23 am

Anna, not only did you explain the heart of the problem and explain why people are against this event but you also provided a solution, "The Mounted Patrol should host an event in place of the pig scramble that truly expresses Western values and heritage, an event that treats animals in a humane way, and an event that the community as a whole will value."

Are the community leaders still so close minded they cannot formulate an alternative event the entire community can support?

Posted by Palominogal
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Anna is an inspiration. The Mounted Patrol should pay attention to the well-reasoned comments of this thoughtful, caring 11 year old. They might learn something

Posted by the children are smarter
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 8, 2017 at 4:13 pm

another western tradition was to slaughter native americans. some traditions are just bad, and as the young informed writer states above the Mounted Patrol just invented this tradition for their own amusement. hey, if they claim it's humane and so much fun for the piglets, why don't we put the members of the mounted patrol in the arena and have the kids chase them around?

Posted by kimmy
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 8, 2017 at 4:47 pm

kimmy is a registered user.

Children are Smarter, an excellent idea. Perhaps if the Mounted Patrol AND Town Council members were chased by hordes of giants, grabbed by their legs, held upside down, dropped on their heads, and then thrown into a trailer they might learn some empathy for all living things. It really is time for our community to up the pressure to get this thing stopped. This has already made the national news, and is sure to do so again come this year's rodeo. Do we really want Woodside to be famous for animal cruelty and weak leadership?

Posted by Abigail Pineda
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Apr 8, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Anna has made a very important point. Anna states "a search of the archives in the National Cowboy Museum yielded no information relating to pig scrambles as a part of Western heritage. Also, there are no references to pig scrambles or pig wrestling in the 2017 Northern California Jr. Rodeo Association (NCJRA) rodeo schedules" .

Cattle and horses belong in a rodeo. I have never heard of any rodeo that included pigs just like I have never heard of a rodeo that included sheep or goats. I have seen a pig scramble event in South America but the event was a pig scramble not a rodeo. Someone should ask Woodside's Town Council and more possibly Woodside Planning Commission if they granted any permit to Mounted Patrol to hold a pig scramble. If the permit was given for a rodeo, and since a rodeo does not include a pig scramble, then Mounted Patrol's pig scramble as part of a rodeo would be in violation of the permit they may have for a rodeo. Pig scramble is a separate event, it certainly is not a rodeo event. Were Woodside residents given the opportunity to have their say, if they want their town to be a place where pig scrambles take place? Resident input should have been taken at a public hearing if a permit for a pig scramble was reviewed by the Town Council or the Planning Commission.

If Mounted Patrol is including pigs in the rodeo, what would be the position of the Town Council if Mounted Patrol wanted to bring elephants for elephant rides and claim elephant ride is part of the rodeo that they have a permit for?

Posted by Daniel
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2017 at 10:41 am

Anna, you have asked "Does the pig scramble reflect Woodside's values?" which is the right question to ask. In Woodside residents are given the opportunity to voice their opinions even for a fence permit. The Town considers factors such as if a fence could block the movement of deer. Woodside residents were not given a chance to voice their opinions about the pig scramble during public hearings over a decade ago when the Town reviewed which activities of Mounted Patrol would be grandfathered. I attended most of the public hearings back then but Mounted Patrol did not provide the pig scramble in the list of events they conducted on their property. I do not think the Town ever granted Mounted Patrol a permit to conduct pig scramble events. A permit was granted for the annual rodeo but not for the pig scramble. As a former resident of Kings Mountain area, it is a surprise to me that the pig scramble is one of the activities of the Mounted Patrol.

Posted by Roland
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Daniel in the comment posted above says Woodside did not grant a pig scramble permit to the Mounted Patrol. If Daniel is correct why does Woodside allow the pig scramble without a permit? Residents cannot even build a back yard fence without a permit in Woodside.

Posted by Mark Carrigan
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2017 at 12:25 am

I am not a resident of Woodside but I have been following the Woodside Pig Scramble saga since last year. Every bit of the story amazed and confounded me.At the end it took an 11 year old child to write the most eloquent, articulate and informative editorial that questioned Woodside's values.

Posted by M
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 11, 2017 at 10:33 am

Gandhi was a vegetarian.

For all of you protesting the Pig Scramble, know there are as many people who support the Mounted Patrol’s right to host it. Each time I attended, gaggles of kids were having a fantastic time with the animals. Just because you’re the most outspoken, doesn’t mean your opinion is the majority’s opinion.

I can only assume all of you are not only vegetarian, but oppose the use of leather and other animal parts for products you use. No leather shoes, no leather belts, purses, furniture. All of these products come from animals who were slaughtered for their meat and hides. Why aren’t you protesting in front of Roberts, which has a fine meat department 365 days a year? Or how about Bloomingdales for their leather shoes – all types, styles and color to fit your fashion preferences? Surely, you understand these businesses harm an exponentially higher number of animals than the Mounted Patrol does on one day of the year. Have your children cried to you about the fact that the leather upholstery in your nice car came from a poor murdered cow? Several dogs died in service to their owners on 9/11. They didn’t ask to be service dogs. I assume this is not justifiable to you either?

Why aren’t you protesting in front of county 4-H meetings? There are several clubs in the area. As is general practice, kids raise market animals to be sold at auction at the county fair – for their meat. At local equestrian barns, most riders use either spurs and whips to control their horses on a daily basis. You may not agree with it, but again, it is their decision and their right to do it. But if the Pig Scramble is so outrageously offensive to you, why aren’t you out there protesting at every barn? Circus Club, Portola Farms, the Horse Park – they’re all right here as close at the Mounted Patrol grounds. You don’t have to wait until one day in July to do it.

Animal conscience – how much they absorb what is happening around them, how they’re “traumatized” - or not - from such an event is debatable. Sure you'll have some veterinarians who agree with you. Some veterinarians are also vegetarians, as is there right to be. You will also find veterinarians who are horsemen and love to chase cute little calves by roping their hind legs as they run.

For those Woodside residents who oppose the Pig Scramble: If you’re concerned the event gives Woodside a bad name, then why did you move to a place with pigs, chickens, horses and other animals kept in the confines of corrals against their will? Yes, the town allows its residences to keep animals on their property, as do (I believe) all towns in the United States do. The Woodside town council voted against your desire have the Pig Scramble cancelled, but that does not make them evil or corrupt. They simply allowed the Mounted Patrol to do what is within their rights to do - just as you have the right not to attend.

My point is that you can’t spin your own personal narrative – it’s ok to shop at Roberts and drive a car with nice leather upholstery but not ok to host a pig scramble – then be offended that other people have differing views. We live in a marvelous country founded, in part, on freedom and the right to conduct our lives in the way we want to as long as it’s legal. Human dominion over animals is a fact of life. And it’s legal. The Mounted Patrol's beliefs obviously offend you personally, but you pushing your beliefs and agendas offend those of us who believe it's their rightful choice. And no, I am in no way affiliated with the Mounted Patrol. I do ride horses though and have an arsenal of spurs and whips to use as necessary. I use a prong collar on my dog. And I love horses and dogs! How is that even possible?

Posted by Friendly Neighbor
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 11, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Regarding the comment of "M":

This is another fine example of a flawed "straw man" argument in which a false comparison is set up - usually an extreme one - and then used to debunk the original claim. In this case, the line of reasoning is "if you are against this type of cruelty, you can't eat meat or you are a hypocrite." In fact, there are many people - veterinarians, people who raise farm animals and your average folks who eat meat while treating animals in accordance with modern farm animal welfare standards and affording them a quality life. One of the persons who submitted a statement agaisnst the pig scramble is a prominent animal scientist and a lifelong pig farmer. She is now an animal agriculture educator and her expertise is pig behaviour and pig handling. Her professional opinion is that pig scrambles violate farm animal welfare standards. Her statement says "pig scrambles are not exempt from these standards just for being 'entertainment'." As to the veterinarians, there aren't simply "a few" against this outdated event - there are thirty! These professionals were willing to publicly state their opinion that the event is inhumane. This isn't a "belief" - rather this is a considered opinion from a professional standpoint. These are trained physicians and animal scientists whose job it is to understand animal medicine, physiology, behaviour, best practices for animal treatment and handling, and the like.

Second, after viewing the video of the event in which young, small pigs are dragged, chased by 50 screaming kids, tackled, picked up by the tail and thrown back into the rodeo ring as they try to escape participation in "round three," the reaction of most people is that this activity is cruel and unnecessary. There is tremendous support in the community for discontinuing it and replacing it with another fun event that doesn't involve animal harassment.

The actual issue is quite simple. Animals that are under our "dominion" as M. calls it, even those that are farmed and will end up as food, are entitled according to modern animal welfare standards to a quality life. One basic tenet of this is enshrined in the Five Freedoms (google it) and states that animals in our care should be protected from "unnecessary suffering" and freedom from fear and distress by avoiding conditions that create mental suffering. Animal scrambles fail to do this and this outmoded, unnecessary activity is being discontinued at fairs in both the U.S. and Canada in recent years as people now see it for what it is - animal abuse.

As to the point that it is legal - yes, it is. This is a valid point. Animal cruelty statues have major gaps in them and animal law is currently evolving to ensure that animals in our care are treated humanely. In the meantime, residents of the community are rightly engaging in a healthy, civic conversation about whether locally we should enact laws or have standards consistent with the humane treatment of animals. As it turns out, not only Anna, an eloquent young person, but many, many others in Woodside are passionate about animals and their welfare. This includes many brave equestrians who, while fearing reprisals from the Mounted Patrol, stepped up and signed a petition asking the Town to end the event. M. should well recognize that not all things that are legal are appropriate for the community. Cities have zoning and other requirements that allow them to shape a community's character and values. Consider what Woodside would look like with a tattoo parlor or head shop right next to Buck's. In Woodside, one can't build a fence without abiding by the Town's rules to protect its "character." Finally, if the best argument the MP has for continuing the "scramble" activity is "hey, it's legal" " then that is a pretty low bar. Hopefully, the leadership will keep an open mind and reflect a bit on this. Many in the community would be very appreciative and support their taking constructive action. There are many creative "win-win" scenarios.

As to the additional argument that this is only one activity that reflects mistreatment of animals so you are ia hypocrite if you aren't concerned with all activities, 24/7. Yes, sadly it is quite true that there are many abusive activities going on in the U.S. and the world each and every moment of every day. (For the record, my car seats are not leather.) Some are far worse than a "scramble." However, this activity takes place in our Town and is very much associated with Woodside. It is entirely appropriate therefore for local residents to engage in a dialogue about this event. It is their right to freely express concern about it just as people do here about many things of a community nature. It is constructive civic engagement. By and large, the dialogue has been friendly and the Town of Woodside has facilitated this in a professional manner. The Almanac has also been a good conduit for all to express varying points of view. This is encouraging at a time when the national dialogue is so discordant.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Apr 11, 2017 at 1:36 pm

There are different ways to stop the pig scramble. Animal abuse is not legal. The Town leaders need to look at the videos taken at the Mounted Patrol Rodeos and they will see that children and adults are abusing piglets. If the Town leaders are too weak to recognize and stop the abuse, then it is time to question the permit process. Call it illegal animal abuse or say that it is not permitted, the pig scramble will be gone. The community has let Town leaders know that it time to stop the pig scramble.

Posted by Mark Carrigan
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Dear "M", I could not understand your logic. Gandhi was a vegetarian? So? how is Gandhi's vegetarianism related to the pig scramble saga of Woodside? You have thrown in leather shoes and vegetarians into the equation but have not made a single sensible argument in your long essay. [part removed.]

Posted by Roland
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 12, 2017 at 1:48 am

Roland is a registered user.

Breaking News!

I searched Town of Woodside documents per Daniel's comment posted a few days ago. I found no sign of a pig scramble permit given to Mounted Patrol. Woodside being an equestrian town should be the first to know pigs are not equestrian animals and a rodeo permit should not count as a permit for the pig scramble.

This creates a huge precedent for property owners who want to conduct whatever use they want on their properties. AirBnbs, massage parlors, hotdog stands are all fair game.

Posted by Grey Seal
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 12, 2017 at 11:39 am

Grey Seal is a registered user.

Responding to Friendly Neighbor and to Daniel and Roland:
Let's examine this for a moment. You can't "grandfather" per Town Code 10.66 an activity that was never permitted in the first place. Grandfathering is a way to provide folks some relief when they did something (built an in-law unit, for example) that was permissible under zoning laws or municipal code and the rules have changed on them. It doesn't mean that if you built something or engaged in some use of the land that was never within your permit in the first place, that you now get to keep doing it. Conditional uses are just that - you get to use your property conditioned on certain requirements or for certain specific uses. This gives municipalities a great deal of local control over what happens even on private property. Friendly Neighbor is incorrect in inferring above that everything that is legal in California can be done on your private property. Just saying! Almanac's coverage of this has really shone a light on this Town and its apparent confusion and lack of consistency in applying its own statutes and standards. I am sure they will sort it all out though once everyone takes a few deep breaths.

Posted by Roland
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Roland is a registered user.

Responding to Grey Seal, you are correct. Municipal Code 10.66 allows "Grandfathering" only if the 'use' was legal within an existing use permit. Accordingly in 2001 public hearings regarding which uses would be grandfathered on Mounted Patrol property, the Planning Commission referred to MP's 1958 existing use permit. If a "use" was not permitted under the 1958 use permit, MP was required to apply for an amendment. The 1958 use permit did not allow the pig scramble. There is no reference to the pig scramble during 2001,2002 and 2011,2012 hearings and MP did not request an amendment for the pig scramble. MP brought numerous speakers who testified to the Planning Commission about the events on their property but no one mentioned the pig scramble. I will not go into why MP kept the pig scramble secret throughout years of public hearings.

The question remains: Why does Woodside allow the pig scramble without a use permit ?

Posted by kimmy
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 12, 2017 at 2:21 pm

kimmy is a registered user.

Thank you for your research, Roland! This all needs revisiting with the Town Council!!

Posted by DoGooder
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:32 pm

DoGooder is a registered user.

If anyone is willing to do the research and look at the planning committee Minutes and staff report from July 25, 2001 on the town's website, everything you want to know about the permit and lack of any mention of a pig scramble is right there.
I did not see pig scramble mentioned once. Nor is it referenced in the current CUP granted to the Mounted Patrol.

If Mounted Patrol has a permit to hold pig scrambles, they should produce it so we can put the legality issue of the event to rest. If in fact they do not have a permit to hold pig scrambles, they need to cease doing it. This is clearly an issue for the Planning Committee of the Town of Woodside to determine.