To the editor:
I recently went to the Jefferson County Fair at Friendship Park to support my niece who is in 4-H. She was showing a pig, I was completely unaware of how they did this, until I witnessed this heartless process. These children are taught and encouraged to smack the pigs with, riding crops, plastic tubes and wooden canes to get them to do what the judge is looking for. These children are so focused on pleasing the judge that they are not paying attention to where they are hitting the pigs. I watched in shock and horror as these children smacked, hit and then hit faster and harder in the face, eyes and all over the body to the point of welts on these beautiful animals ... all to please a judge.
This cruel and barbaric treatment seems to be very normal to these people, and listening as they justify these actions saddens me. What does it say about society's mindset when children are encouraged to participate in a program that ultimately means the death of an animal they've befriended and whose trust they actively courted? They dismiss a child's heartbreak at losing a beloved animal friend as weakness. Is this a snapshot of how we systematically desensitize ourselves to cruelty of animals.
Pigs are highly perceptive, intelligent animals that excel at learning and understanding concepts. Social, playful and loyal, these sensitive beings enjoy communicating with each other, making nests, relaxing in the sun and cooling off in the mud.
Please, think about what this really means for the animals, consider how miserable and frightening it must be for these animals to be carted to and from one fair to the next, and hit and hurt for no reason and their reward at the end, a painful and terrifying death. While I tried to remain the objective observer, I can not, I cried that night for these animals.