Hog dogging

From Academic Kids

Hog dogging, (also hog-dog fighting, hog baiting, or hog-dog rodeo) is a blood sport involving the pitting of a fighting dog, usually a pit bull or American Bulldog against a hog or feral pig. In a typical match the hog, tusks removed, is released into a pen with one or more dogs who attempt to subdue it. In more violent versions of the sport, specially trained "catch dogs" try to bring down the hog by biting and dragging. Occasionally the dogs are outfitted with chest armor, but major injuries to both animals are common in any case.

Hog dogging as a sport developed from the training of specialist boar-hunting dogs. Typically a hunter's pack of dogs is divided into "bays" who corner the hogs and "catch dogs" that try to bring them down. The development of this training into a competitive spectator event is believed to have first taken place in Winnfield, Louisiana at an event known as "Uncle Earl's Hog Dog Trials." The Trials were first organized in 1995 as part of the celebration of former Governor and well-known hog hunter Earl K. Long's 100th birthday. The annual event is known as "The Super Bowl of Hog Dog Baying." In these trials, a group of five judges score the dogs' skill at baying the hog (cornering it and causing it to stand still.) Events are classed by the age of the dog and the number of dogs attempting the bay.

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) most active pens are found in the U.S. Southern states, with the highest current concentration in Alabama. Louisiana passed a bill in 2004 to prohibit hog dogging contests in which either animal could be hurt or killed. The Winnfield event, which is officially recognized by a the Louisiana legislature, is exempted from the ban because only bay dogs are used and if a dog "catches" or clamps onto the hog for more than five seconds it is pried loose with a "break stick" and disqualified from competition. The organizers consider their event to be a "family-oriented" spectacle that preserves aspects of Louisiana's traditions and culture.

Already such contests can be prosecuted as animal cruelty, though only the dogs' owners are punished, often with a fine or short sentence. Several states, including Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee are considering specific laws to set penalties for breeders, promoters, hosts and spectators who participate in these events. Crafting such laws is complicated by organized resistance from breeders of fighting cocks, whose long-established, though technically illegal, industry still has enough power to discourage broad new legislation against all animal combat. The proposed legislation in Alabama would also exempt the use of dogs in hunting wild boar (which are considered nuisances and can be hunted year round) or for herding hogs on a farm.

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