Hog-baiting, aka Hog dogging, Hog-dog fighting, or
Hog-dog rodeo is a
bloodsport involving the
baiting of a
hog or boar.
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
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
Long's 100th birthday. The annual event is known as "The
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
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 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
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
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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