Every year, the municipality of Sainte-Perpétue, in Quebec, holds an event known as “festival du cochon” (pig festival).
During this event, domestic pigs of different ages and sizes, as well as wild boars, are forced into an arena where participants chase them, catch them, lift and drop them in a barrel; put plastic rings around their necks; and force them to run through doors or cylinders.
The potential for injuries is high during such events, particularly when participants launch themselves on the animals to force them to stop running and grab them, or when the animals run in a futile attempt to escape their pursuers. Such handling can also lead to various internal injuries, which would only be noticed later or upon the death of the animals.
Furthermore, transporting pigs, placing them into an strange environment, chasing them, grabbing them, lifting them and subjected them to the noises of a crowd cheering ineluctably cause stress and fear to these highly intelligent and sensitive animals. Pigs can become severely stressed in a matter of minutes. The combination of fear and physical exhaustion can cause extreme stress and fatigue for the animals, who, in severe cases, could collapse and even die. This risk is compounded by the fact that these events take place during the heat of the summer. High temperatures and humidity can cause further stress to pigs who, unlike humans, do not have sweat glands and are therefore more at risk of heat stress and heat stroke.
It is also likely that pigs (and other farmed animals) used in these types of events are prevented from eating and even drinking for some length of time before the events in order to avoid or limit the release of vomit, urine and feces — “by-products” of stress and fear, which could deter potential participants from registering.
By imposing stress and fear on animals for the sake of entertainment, organizers teach participants and attendees, adults and young alike, that animals, as intelligent and sensitive as they are, can be used for humans’ own purposes, no matter the consequences for these sentient beings. Sadly, these events, rather than imparting compassion, teach the message that it is acceptable to dominate and subject other living beings to our desire, simply to satisfy our own pleasure — a very disturbing message which should have no place in the twenty-first century.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
– Voice your concerns to the organizers and the sponsors. Call or send them a polite email to provide them with information regarding the welfare of animals in these events, and the negative educational message such events convey. Explain that you (and your friends/family) will not buy tickets to the festival unless these cruel events are cancelled.
– Contact Mayor Line Théroux, members of the municpal council (Guy Dupuis, Mathieu Bourque, François Roy, Carmen Arseneault, François Pinard and Luc Laplante), as well as your MP and ask them to help bring an end to such cruel and dated forms of entertainment.
– Write letters to the editor to express your disapproval for such events.
– Organize a peaceful demonstration at the site of the events. Make sure you know your rights and where you are allowed to stand (i.e. what is considered public property). Notify the media of your presence and bring out leaflets to help educate the public.