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'Pig Rassle': Come on St. Patrick, are there no other humane charitable events?

The fundraising "Pig Rassling" continues to draw ire from humane advocates across the nation.
The fundraising "Pig Rassling" continues to draw ire from humane advocates across the nation. screenshot

An online petition has garnered more than 70,000 signatures of supporters wanting to ban the contentious sport of pig wrestling; a "sporting" event where teams line up in mud-filled arenas and have to move a pig from one point to another to the top of a barrel in less than a minute.

Intense criticism from humane advocates and animal welfare organizations arose when Wisconsin's St. Patrick Catholic Church announced its yearly pig brawl, would be taking place again, with Deacon Ken Bilgrien stating it was a "fun event that attracts hundreds of people each year."

The pig wrestling event, which has gone on for the past eight years, is part of the community's 44th annual Roundup Day hosted by St. Patrick Parish featuring Mass, dinner, a parade, live music and dozens of raffles benefiting the Roman Catholic parish.

No one obviously asked the pigs if the event was fun, as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) director of Christian Outreach and Engagement, Sarah Withrow King reported that the pigs were kept in pens in the hot sun with no food or water. Videos of the pigs showed the screaming animals terrified as multiple men tackled them, pushing the animals' heads and bodies into the mud and dragging them by their legs to the appointed contest destination.

In response to public outrage, the church issued the following statement:

"Consideration is taken to ensure that the pigs are safe and free from any abuse. After consultation with local authorities, it has been determined that there is no illegality associated with this event. St. Patrick Parish does not condone animal abuse."

This week, according to the GreenbayPressGazette, an international animal protection organization SHARK, President and Founder Steve Hindi stated a video showed an injured pig while children wallowed in mud contaminated with animal feces and urine. Under state law, spectators, organizers and participants could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony Hindi explained.

Hindi is willing to offer alternative events instead of the pig wrestling including the money to fund the event if the church agrees to cancel future pig wrestling events.

According to, co-chairman of the pig debacle, Bruce Learman stated:

“This has been our tradition for 44 years. This is our big draw for our parish picnic. If we don’t have the pig rassle down here, we don’t hardly see any people come to our church."

Once a group is put into the ring, they’re given one pig. After that, the wrestlers have 45 seconds to round up the pig and place it on top of a barrel."

Sadly, the church plans to hold the event again next year; that is unless the public can convince them there are far more humane and less cruel ways to raise $3,000.

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