After 44 years of hosting a “pig wrestling” event, St. Patrick’s Parish in Stephensville, Wisconsin confirmed today that they will cease hosting further events involving pigs. Last August, the parish hosted its final event, despite international outrage over animal cruelty concerns. Singer Shirley Manson even called on the event’s cancelation, saying “Wisconsin has a special place in my heart since my band Garbage got its start there,” she said. “We are better than this unnecessary and abusive activity. Please cancel the Roundup Pig Rassle immediately and permanently.”
Other celebrities, such as Bif Naked also called on the parish to cancel the event. Bif Naked took to Facebook to say “This is an extremely cruel event and these animals have no voice.” The event was originally brought to light by a local animal protection organization. Global Conservation Group, based out of Watertown, Wisconsin called the event “illegal animal fighting”. The organization collected nearly 100,000 signatures on a Change.org petition urging the deacon to cancel the event. The group said pigs were “punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, yelled at and thrown into a bucket.”
Global Conservation Group (GCG) protested the event last August, which brought international media coverage. USA Today, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, Huffington Post and even Catholic Online slammed the event, calling it cruel to animals. The group also acquired two attorneys to file a lawsuit against the parish in an effort to halt future events. Furthermore, a campaign website was launched to raise awareness, called StPatricksAbuse.com.
Today, after 260 days of campaigning by animal advocates, St. Patrick’s Parish posted the following on their website “We realize that our parish and diocesan talents could be better spent in areas that are less controversial. It is with great regret that we have discontinued the Original Pig Rassle, we are however, very excited to begin this new tradition at St. Patrick Parish.” The new tradition that will take the place of “pig wrestling” is a “human foosball tournament”, played in a mud pit.
Global Conservation Group Chief Investigative Officer Hunter Shaffer said today, “This would not have been possible without the dedication and effort of the tens of thousands of volunteers and animal loving individuals over these past months. We cannot thank you enough. I express my warmest of regards to the church of St Patrick for their change of heart and willingness to do what is right for all involved. I feel as if the success of this campaign will lead to an eventual total reform of how animals are treated in Wisconsin and around the world.” The group says they will mail a formal letter of thanks to the parish.
GCG says, one of many organizations that assisted them with this campaign include SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness). SHARK provided undercover investigative technology and was able to clearly document on video, the abuse that took place during the event. SHARK was also active in urging the Diocese of Green Bay to step up and condemn the event. Other organizations that assisted include the Humane Society of the United States-Wisconsin and World Animal Awareness Society.
Last week, Global Conservation Group announced protest plans against St. Patrick’s Parish that would be held in Green Bay, Houston, New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles on May 3rd to raise further awareness. However, those have since been called off.