Hog dog rodeos, also known as hog catches, are taking place in rural areas of the South and the Midwest, and those who profit from them bill animal cruelty as family entertainment. In actuality, it is a horrible display of inhumanity toward both wild hogs and domestic dogs. The organizers of these weekend rodeos release a mutilated hog into a make-shift ring with a dog, usually a pit bull trained to attack. In order to reduce the amount of harm that may befall the dog, the boar's tusks are often removed with bolt cutters or a steel pipe and hammer. On occasion, the dog is dressed in a leather jacket for added protection.
The hog is forced into the fighting ring, and the dog is then released to maul his flesh—tearing the hog's ears off and mangling his snout. This horrifying event lasts until the pit bull has "pinned" the innocent hog and is deemed winner of the match. Only then is the dog pulled off the hog, a situation that can involve the use of a breakstick to loosen the dog's death grip. The event's profit comes from an entrance fee to the rodeo and from gambling on the dog with the fastest "pin" time. Unfortunately, the hog has to suffer this torture more than once on an event night, as they are used over and over each rodeo to accommodate the number of dog entries.
In most of the states where these rodeos are thought to take place, animal fighting is illegal; hog dog rodeos, however, are not specifically addressed, and a lack of law enforcement allows them to continue. Yet thanks to an undercover investigation early last year by an Alabama NBC affiliate, this despicable practice was brought to the public's attention. In December 2004, raids across three states yielded arrests on animal cruelty charges to hog dog event organizers. In late February, three suspected operators of three distinct hog dog rodeo operations were arrested in Escambia County, Ala. and charged with animal cruelty; 45 hogs were confiscated and will most likely be euthanized because of their injuries and possible diseases.
There may be an end to this terrible abuse. Louisiana passed a law in 2004 that bans hog dog events, and it went into effect last August. Mississippi introduced a similar piece of legislation that passed the State Senate, but died in the House Judiciary "Division B" Committee. As of late March, Tennessee and Alabama had related legislation pending. While there seems to be some hope for restricting hog dog rodeos, hunting wild hogs with teams of dogs is legal in many of the same states where the rodeos occur—a sign exploitation of both hogs and dogs may continue.
Human hunters take advantage of the dogs' natural courage and power, sending a Cur dog out to track a hog and alert them when one is caught. Taking a sick pleasure in the horrific violence, the hunters then release a pack of Dogos—dogs bred specifically for this type of hunting—and let them rip the hog's flesh to shreds. Like the rodeos, this puts both hogs and dogs at risk of unnecessary pain, all for the humans' amusement. If you suspect this cruel practice is occurring in your area, please contact your state fish and game department and let it be known that hog hunting, the original inspiration for the rodeos, should be stopped.