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Animal activists claim victory after Ontario fair cancels 'pig scramble'

Last Updated Jul 14, 2017 at 4:28 pm EDT

A competitor dives on the back of a pig to try to catch it, Friday, July 29, 2011 during the Clark County Fair's Pig Scramble event in Springfield, Ohio. A New Brunswick woman has launched a campaign to end a pig-chasing tradition at a rural fair in Prince Edward Island, where children are encouraged to pursue the squealing swine as they scramble around an enclosed pen. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Springfield News-Sun, Bill Lackey

Animal rights activists are claiming a victory after a Smith Falls-area fair announced it would be cancelling its annual “pig scramble.”

Toronto Pig Save began an online petition to call for the end of the event scheduled to take place at the Lombardy Fair in August. In a few short days, the petition garnered close to 5,500 digital signatures.

In a pig scramble, piglets are placed into a pen and children chase them around.

“Toronto Pig Save and its supporters have a hard time understanding why people are still continuing with this type of event,” the petition reads. “Animals are not here to entertain us or be chased by children.

“It is very traumatizing to the baby pigs having a group of kids chasing them in circles in the heat. There is absolutely no purpose or good that comes out of this activity.”

But while activists are celebrating, the director of the Lombardy Agricultural Society is pointing the finger squarely in their direction.

“Due to pressure from a group of people who object to this venue, we are cancelling the event for our 2017 fair,” John W. Joynt said in a statement posted on the fair’s Facebook page.

“We are not taking this action because we are threatened by this group of uninformed individuals, but rather because we don’t want our fair-goers to have to deal with the stress of meeting demonstrators at our fair entrance.”

Statement from John W. Joynt, director of the Lombardy Agricultural Society, on the pig scramble. Image Credit: Facebook

Joynt claims that this action has even disappointed the pigs as “this is the only opportunity they have to get out of their pen and romp around with the kids from the time they are born until they go to slaughter at five months old.

“The squealing they do during the event is not from distress but rather from delight at the fun they’re having too.”

Joynt goes on to say that “livestock breeders and farmers in general are very concerned about the welfare of their animals” and that the claims of animal abuse are simply a generalization.

“We realize that there are situations when animals are abused, as are children, however we cannot blame everyone for the mistakes of a very few.”

The statement from Joynt, which has since been removed from the fair’s Facebook page, has caused mixed reaction.

Some said the post only furthered their allegations of animal cruelty.

“hahahahahahaha. what a moron. totally made themselves look terrible. Us cruel vegans denying those baby pigs their social day. what a joke,” Jordan Malnick posted.

“Why is this the only opportunity the babies have to get out? That is so cruel. So you give 5 month old babies the gift of terror before sending them to the slaughterhouse and this is normal to you? Your lack of empathy and compassion is disturbing. I guess you need that when you’re in the animal abuse and killing business,” Ubax Said posted.

“So, being compassionate is being ‘uninformed’? What a joke. Animals are not here to entertain us. The world is changing.” Norma Elgersma Caira posted.

“Happy to see such a ridiculous and unnecessary event cancelled. I’m sure the kids won’t miss it as there are tonne of activities for them to participate in that doesn’t involve chasing a greased up unsocialized helpless pig around,” Renée Seward said.

However some posted about being sad to see the event go.

“Dam tree huggers always ruining it for others you dont like the event easy stay ur ass at home and dont watch it,” Greg Weston said.

“Well said. You are an honourable, realistic, educated, generous man respected by many. I am proud to shake your hand and call you my friend. I’m sorry you have to deal with such ridiculous uninformed stupidity. From this former farm gal – I support you !!” Mary Yellen posted.

“One of the best things to watch at the fair. If people don’t like it. Head to a city fair. Leave us country folk alone,” James Des Rosiers said.

This isn’t the first time this summer activists have taken a stand against a long running tradition.

Last week, two activists were arrested at a bull-running during a Portuguese community event in Caledon.

Organizers of that event said they were surprised about the outrage and that the animals are not harmed.

No charges were laid.

However, in May, animal activist, and founder of Toronto Pig Save, Anita Krajnc was found not guilty of mischief after giving water to pigs headed to slaughter. As well, charges of obstructing police and breach of recognizance against her were stayed after she crossed a police line to get closer to an overturned truck full of pigs in Burlington.

Last year, the “Greasy Pig” contest at the South Mountain Fair, just outside of Ottawa, was also cancelled after Toronto Pig Save posted an online petition calling for the event to be shut down. Fair organizers said they feared provincial funding would be pulled over the growing controversy.

One of the biggest cases in Ontario in recent years was when five animal cruelty charges were laid against the owner of the Bowmanville Zoo after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released footage that appeared to show Michael Hackenberger whipping one of his tigers.

Those charges were later stayed after Hackenberger suffered a stroke and was found “medically unfit” to stand trial. The zoo officially closed in 2016.

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