The long, dirt roads in the deep South can seem endless as
they wind past untended fields and lonely houses. In the most rural of
areas, the roads may lead you to tin shacks which barely contain the hell
inside. Squeals reverberate off the walls; furious barking pierces the
night. As you get closer, the acrid smell instinctively draws your hand to
shield your nose and mouth.
Inside, a group of adults and children crowd in a
semi-circle, patiently waiting for something. A man stands at a podium
with a microphone, making some sort of introduction. "Angel here is a
three-year-old bitch, bred and trained by Ray Jackson. She hates hogs and
has a record of pinning in three seconds. Time to place your bets."
As people begin to move around, you notice a dirt-filled
ring. There is a gate at one end and a chute at the other. Soon, everyone
is again standing at the ring and you find a place along the front. The
chute opens and a frightened hog slides through, landing with a thud. He
shakes and appears to be injured. His ears and tail have tear marks and
his tusks look as if they have been sawed off. The man with the dog in the
pen releases the leash and in three seconds, the hog is squealing in pain
as the dog's jaws latch onto his neck. Both adults and children cheer
while the hog continues to scream. In a few minutes, the scene will repeat
itself with another trained dog and another terrified hog.
Known as hog dog rodeos, these events have provided people
with "entertainment" for at least two decades. Feral hogs are plentiful in
places like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Texas
and Arizona. Hunters use trained dogs to corner hogs in the wild; they
then keep the hogs barely alive in filthy conditions. When rodeo night
arrives, the hogs are dragged into the pen-defenseless after their tusks
are removed with bolt cutters-to face another dog who will tear them
apart. For years, this cruel tradition has been a favorite pastime for
families who live nearby as well as a money-making scheme for rodeo
Most people would reasonably believe that hog dog rodeos
are illegal under existing animal cruelty laws. But while district courts
have been eager to try hog dog operators, authorities have not had much
success in the past. Charging an operator with animal cruelty requires the
cooperation of the local sheriff's department. Many times, the sheriff
himself is the one operating the rodeo. And so this bloody business has
continued to operate just below the radar.
In the past year, reporter Mike Rush attended an Alabama
rodeo and his crew secretly filmed the horror. The local NBC affiliate
station featured the undercover story on the news. The story lead to the
arrest of the operator, Johnnie Hayes, and convinced Louisiana
Representative Warren Triche to ban hog dog rodeos in his state. Triche's
law was the first to specifically address this bloodsport.
The Humane Society of the United States has been following
the hog dog story for several years. In late December, they assisted
authorities in several counties in uncovering and arresting the leading
rodeo promoters. Seven people in three states were arrested on animal
cruelty charges. More arrests are expected. At the properties,
investigators found both hogs and dogs in deplorable conditions. Dogs were
tied to stakes and exposed to freezing weather. The hogs lived in cramped
pens, their bodies mutilated and broken.
This news is good cause for celebration among animal
rights supporters. However, the test will be whether the guilty are
appropriately punished. If so, their story will set a precedent and
hopefully convince other rodeo operators to put an end to this cruel
To offer your support and gratitude for the cooperation of
the local authorities, you may contact:
Chester County, South Carolina
Sheriff Robert H. Benson, phone: (803) 581-5133. Call to thank him/his
office for their help in arresting Arthur Parker, his son Arthur, Jr., and
Parker's wife, Mary Evans Luther. Encourage them to ensure that the
threesome is convicted on animal fighting charges.
Yavapai and Maricopa Counties, Arizona
Yavapai Sheriff's Office (928) 567-7710
Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio (602) 506-8530. Call to thank them for
arresting James Curry and Jodi Curry-Liesberg and let them know what you
think of hog dog rodeos.
Jefferson County, Alabama
Sheriff Mike Hale (205) 325-5700. Call to thank him for his department's
role in arresting Richard and Shina Landers.
Please check the Humane Society's website (www.hsus.org)
in the future for news on further developments.
Go on to CROATIA ... A
Land Of Cruelty?
Return to 16 January 2005 Issue
Return to Newsletters
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