Readfield pig rush sparks controversy from animal rights group

Two children chase a pig during a pig scrambling event at the 2016 Skowhegan State Fair. A Readfield resident has started a petition against a similar event scheduled for Saturday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel File

READFIELD – Animal activists are raising concerns about a pig rush due to take place during Readfield Heritage Days on Saturday, but event officials insist it will be done in a safe manner.

one online petition to stop the event circulated on social media and garnered nearly 200 signatures in three days. Arielle Cousens, a Readfield resident, authored the document, which states that ‘animals are not objects to be tortured for entertainment’ and suggests the town promote a ‘humane’ event for children, such as a race instead. obstacles.

Event organizer Denis Price said he didn’t think the pig rush would cause as much controversy as it did, but he told activist groups and individuals that “he hears them” and that rules have been followed to ensure the event will be safe for the animals.

A pig rush is an event usually held at agricultural fairs where piglets are let loose in a pen and children try to catch them in a bag. If they catch the pig, they can often keep it. At the Readfield event, they can either keep the pig or take home $50.

“The idea is that they catch it (the pig),” said Price, who is also on Readfield’s board. “They don’t shoot him or put him in a headlock. It is one pig at a time and there are several heats. All the rules have been respected. »

In Maine, a pork (or veal) scramble is legal and governed by state status. Price said Readfield organizers followed all guidelines. A permit must be obtained by the state and an application with the participant’s name must be submitted along with $10.

If the law is violated, it could cost up to $100.

Additionally, the state has rules for the stampede itself, which Price said Readfield follows, including:

• The event manager is responsible for animal welfare before, during and after the event.

• No lubricant may be used on the pig or competitor.

• Pigs must weigh at least 16 pounds for scrambles involving children 8-10 years old and at least 22 pounds for children 10-12 years old.

• Participants cannot be older than 12 years old.

• Bags or sacks used should be made of hessian to allow the pigs to breathe.

Despite Readfield’s actions, the Maine Animal Coalition believes the event is dangerous for piglets. There will be 10 piglets.

“The kids (participating) – they’re not toddlers, they’re big kids and they’re chasing the animals,” said coalition chair Beth Gallie. “Of course they are scared. Imagine that you are chasing a dog or a cat. They (the children) don’t understand what they are doing — they sit on them and hurt the pig’s back, or worse, then they grab them by the leg. . . it is not animal friendly.

Gallie said she was also worried about what would happen to the pigs after they returned home and compared the event to an animal shelter giving away a cat in a raffle – that “doesn’t happen “, she said.

“Farm animals are huge and they can put them in the shed or in the back yard, but think of all the waste and the cost to feed them,” she said.

Price said the event was popular among Readfield residents and already by Friday six children had signed up. Only children aged 7-12 can participate, and they will be divided into two age groups: 7-9 and 10-12.

“You listen and hear people’s concerns, but there’s a group of people here who want to do this and believe it promotes reasonable breeding,” Price said.

Readfield Heritage Days are two day event, beginning Friday evening and continuing at 7 a.m. on Saturday. The pig rush is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday. The party ends with a fireworks display on the beach at 9:15 p.m.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Arielle Cousens is a resident of Readfield.

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