Fighting Mad

JACKSON COUNTY MS — Competitions in which a dog holds a boar at bay for two minutes in a small arena have raised a ruckus in Jackson County.

Animal-rights people are afraid both the hog and the dog suffer. People who support events at Fort Bayou Ranch in Vancleave say it’s they who suffer, by being misunderstood and denied use of their land for a sport that’s sanctioned by state law. Dogs snarl, bare their teeth, snap and bark ferociously to manipulate the boar. The boars snort, butt and sometimes toss the dogs. The supporters say all that looks worse than it is, even though hog dogs often wear protective vests. Advocates say it’s a family event. Children got involved in contacting their county supervisors about it.

Supervisor Melton Harris said the issue was so hot he was receiving 50 to 60 e-mails a day, and “it got to where every time your BlackBerry vibrated it was something on hog dogs.”

Event OK’d, with conditions

Then the Board of Supervisors heard the issue and decided it’s OK for the group to continue holding the events on the private ranch. The board heard a building official was sent to an event, found zoning violations and felt the need to call the law because of the attitude of some of the people. The board added conditions to its permission. It required an auxiliary police officer be on the grounds at future events, and the public-address system to be turned off at 9 p.m. so people living nearby could sleep. And the board will review the permit in a year.

The vote was 4 to 1. Here’s what the board had to say.

Melton Harris, who represents Moss Point, said opponents of the activity are misinformed. “A lady called from Hattiesburg. She was under the impression that the dogs get in there and kill the hogs,” Harris said, “like the old gladiator days when there are lions in there …. Comments about dogs injuring the hogs were not correct. And those who were alleging those things did not show up (at the hearing.)”

The vast majority of people at the hearing were in favor of the sport.

A contact sport

Harris said he has not been to a hog-dog bay, but he understands farm competitions. “With the baying itself, you don’t torment,” Harris told the Sun Herald. Torment would be if the dogs chased the hog around the property, he said. Harris likened the events to high school football or the NBA — contact sports. He said the ideal is no one is injured, but injuries will happen from time to time.

A constituent asked him how he knows there’s no gambling going on. Harris said he told them he doesn’t, and that there might be a friendly wager like one father betting another at a pee-wee football game.

“It doesn’t mean you condone it,” he said.

Travel trailer town

Harris said the issue of too many travel trailers on the property for the weekend events will take care of itself. He said no one wants to deal with raw sewage, and the event “would start losing people if the sewer system doesn’t work. “We don’t want to stop something that is considered a tradition, something they are accustomed to doing,” he said. “Even though they were doing it without permission.” Harris said the events had been going on for years without any problem. “If animals were being mauled, “that would be justification to shut it down.”

Supervisors Manly Barton and John McKay represent most of Vancleave.

Barton said he had calls from people who were mad at him for his vote, but all the e-mails were thanking him. Barton went to hog dog bayings when he was a kid, but not to those at Fort Bayou Ranch. He knows the people involved and said he trusts them.

Review in one year

Still, he pointed out the board will review the issue in a year. “We went out and looked at it. The hogs and dogs. It’s not what (opponents) portrayed it to be,” he said. “They didn’t want to hear the truth,” Barton said. “Not all of them, but some of them.” Barton said the county allowed people to hold rodeos on private property years ago. Now the county has a horse arena for events, but Barton said the hog dog group wants a smaller venue than the arena.

At the hearing, the board received conflicting information about the number of travel trailers on the property during an event. The county building official reported considerably more than the group owned up to. “I guarantee we’ll know next time,” Barton said. “We’ll watch it closely and make sure it’s what it’s being portrayed as.”

Legal sport

McKay said, “It’s a legal sport. It has been cast as inhumane, but it’s not.” McKay said he attended the World Championships at the county’s multiplex and horse arena in 2005. But he said the issue before the board wasn’t whether he liked the event. It was whether the group could hold it at a private ranch.

McKay said he dealt with some “vocal, vocal, mad people” who were against the sport, but most of the people he talked with in Vancleave weren’t. “A lady called me and said, ‘I’m going to be a lawyer and I’m going to defeat this.’ She said it was cruelty to animals, and I said it was not. “It’s no different than a rodeo where there’s bull-doggin’ and they’re twisting a cow’s neck and nobody says a word about it,” he said. “They rope a calf and jerk its feet out from under it and throw it down. I don’t support cock fights or dog fighting, but this is a legal sport and they have the right to do it, whether I like it or not,” McKay said.

Blood draws elimination

He said he would be opposed to it if it were a blood sport. If a dog bites a hog’s ear, there’s blood, he said, but the dog is eliminated from the competition. McKay said the championships at the public arena were very controlled, with someone in the ring to make sure the animals stayed apart. “There may be events other places in the nation that aren’t as controlled,” he said. “But that’s the reason I wanted a policeman on the grounds. If the policeman sees animal abuse, he can stop it immediately.”

He said that goes also for gambling, or if the crowd gets rowdy.

Board President Mike Mangum voted against allowing the events at the ranch. He said 90 percent of comments at the hearing Monday had nothing to do with the issue, which was land use. “A working farm is fine, but that’s an event,” he said. Mangum said he believes a hog dog trial becomes illegal if something gets hurt. He said the earlier events violated county zoning, but when the county asked them to stop and go through the proper channels, they did. “The Littles, the Mallettes, the Inabinettes are good people,” he said. “If they say they’re going to do something, I think that’s what they’re going to do.”

Supervisor Tommy Brodnax got calls from Arkansas and Missouri supporting the sport, and only three complaints about his vote. “From what I’ve seen on TV and what everybody’s told me, there’s one dog and one hog,” he said. “He’s judged on how he bays that hog. And I don’t see anything in the world wrong with that.”

Life With Dogs post end paw print

from the Sun Herald

17 thoughts on “Fighting Mad

  1. Wow! I wonder what those good old boys would consider abuse. They all sound like they walked right out of Deliverance to me. I wonder what would happen if someone walked in with video proof of all the allegations that have been made, both about the animals’ treatment and about misuse of the property.

    And I thought my neighbors were rednecks!

  2. sigh…don’t those people have better things to do? It annoys us just to hear our dog Preston barking at the animals on TV… I can’t imagine anyone would enjoy watching hog-dog fights.

  3. I am sorry to read this. I had no idea that hog baiting was legal in the U.S. *sigh* Why is the torment of animals still considered a source of entertainment? In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before that very fine line is crossed and this activity turns into a blood sport.

    Definition from Wikipedia: “Bait or baiting is the act of worrying or tormenting a chained or confined animal by setting dogs upon it for sport. The dogs attack the opposing animal, biting and tearing at it to subdue it by incapacitating or killing it. Baiting is a blood sport used for entertainment and gambling. It is illegal in most countries with varying levels of enforcement.”

    Baiting is illegal in Canada.

    1. Clearly Wolfie (etc) didn’t actually read the article and have no f*king clue what they’re talking about.
      If he had any reading comprehension skills whatsoever, he’d have noticed that bay dog competitions not only disallow contact between the animals, but the dogs are barred from competition for it. Bay dogs are not bred or intended to bite, catch, or kill hogs, and bay competitions do not involve bloodletting.

      Citiots. What can you do? It’s a Disney world, and everyone’s an ignorant redneck but the PETA people, right? In my opinion, it’s just a matter of time before that very fine line is crossed and vegan philosophy turns into fundamentalist religion. Oh wait, that’s already true.

      Anyone want to take a moment to consider the more than $800 MILLION in damages to US agriculture that introduced feral hogs cause every year (that’s VEGAN food, you morons, just in case you couldn’t connect the dots)? The delicate native ecosystems they destroy? The native endangered species they’re pushing to the brink? And the fact that bay dogs are one of the only effective methods of catching and killing them? I thought not. Citiots. But those folks growing and protecting the food that fills your belly, we’re just ignorant, animal-abusing rednecks, right? Right.

      1. Just thought I’d pointing out that you’re calling someone an idiot for not being able to comprehend something, yet show that you don’t actually seem to comprehend what was written either.

        They do not disallow contact between the animals, as a matter of fact they say that the boar actually tosses the dogs. They disqualify for blood, not contact.

        Then go on to say that this “sport” which is “non violent” somehow helps vegans eat better by trimming down the feral hog population? The correlation is off. This is treated as a “sport” and should be completely separated from dogs trained to do a specific job, like hunting feral pigs.

        1. They disallow contact such that a bay dog which bites at the boar is disqualified. If the boar rushes and tosses the dog, that’s a different story–a good dog does not put him or herself in the position of getting tossed by the pig, and would lose the competition for lack of skill. A dog who continues to put him or herself in danger would not be used. These dogs are valuable working dogs, and wounded dogs cannot work. Senseless dogs that allow themselves to get caught and tossed are no help to anyone and put everyone in danger. The dog is not allowed to contact the pig, period. The picture you want to paint is that of a bloodsport where “fighting” dogs are pit against innocent animals, and that’s simply not the case.

          This is a “sport” in the sense that it allows for exhibition and training of real-world working dogs. It’s only the citiots who know little or nothing of how agriculture works that imagine there is, or should be, a “complete separation” between the two. You want to believe that this is a “blood sport” with no real world utility because it makes it easier for you to demonize and stereotype the rural people who protect the land and crops for a living, not to mention perpetuate the stereotype of hordes of dog fighters and animal abusers in rural America.

          Get that? Or do I need to repeat it for your comprehension? There is no division between “sport” dogs who win bay competitions and the real-world bay dogs who really bay real, dangerous feral hogs in the real-world protection of real-world “vegan” crops. That is why there is such a strict no-contact policy, not to appease those city-dwelling idiots who know nothing of which they speak, but because contact is DANGEROUS and to be avoided at all costs in the REAL WORLD. Real world bay dogs do not catch hogs, and neither do bay dogs in exhibition or competition.

          I realize that in your smug, comfy, Disney world it may be hard for you to grasp, but there it is. These working dogs are a necessary piece in the puzzle in filling your belly. Competitions are simply a way for a working community to gather, celebrate, educate, train, and network. You urbanites who buy into this PETA/HSHS propaganda are a f*king joke.

  4. Leave it up to us humans to let such a cruel thing go on. Where is the compassion and caring for other species. This is right up there with dog fighting. There are great people out there doing great things for the animal kingdom and then there are idiots. These people are in the idiot group..

  5. ya know what, you people haven’t even read the article! the dogs are disqualified if they draw blood! this is a BAYING – that’s a form of ringing barking – competition. there’s no contact allowed between the animals. a human being is INSIDE the pen to prevent such contact. these people know what they’re doing, they don’t want their valuable dogs injured.

    just because you don’t live the lives these people do doesn’t make their lives wrong. it just makes it different from yours. you prissy little life in the city where everything is on the grocery shelf already sliced and diced for you is a joke to these people. they’re the ones that put it there FOR you. get over yourselves, you’re NOT the end all and be all of the rule for how people should live their lives.

    geeze!

  6. Rednecks….

    “It’s just like… contact sports”

    But in contact sports, the contenders WANT to me there and do so of their own will… unless they had a mom like mine who made me try a few things I didn’t want to.

    I dunno, no one is getting hurt physically, but what’s the point? scaring the shit out of a boar? Meh

    1. The point is a working community gathering together to exhibit skills of particular working dogs, celebrate skilled working dogs, exchange knowledge, train young dogs, educate the public, and so on.

      The goal of this sort of propaganda is to caricature rural people and these working dogs as “fighting animals” and “dog fighters” playing at “blood sports”. They want you to believe that there is no real-world utility, because it makes it easier to stereotype and demonize rural people. Farmers and hog hunters aren’t ignorant rubes, they’re the people who keep your bellies filled, and who know (and love) more about dogs than you urbanites with your couch potato pooches can ever even begin to imagine.

  7. The whole point here Donna and lerch ? lol is that the many dog breeds have all come from wolves. Man has breed them for different reasons and specific sports, chores and temperament, sporting dogs compete in all kinds of events many similar and some more aggressive than this and are practiced and held in many different cultures and country’s. many sanction by the ASPCA and the human society, you are only showing your illiteracy and insecurities by mis quoting, labeling and calling people names

  8. I’m a food for though kind of person and I’d like to offer something. I’m going to change this up a bit so don’t criticize me for confusing the facts. Cats are a very effective way for farmers to keep rodents like mice and rats from causing problems. Mouse traps and rat poison are a very effective way to destroy mice or rats in your home. If you think there’s any difference at all in the way that mouse dies, you’re just silly! The mouse suffers a terrible death either way. If it eats poison, suffocates in a trap, or is rolled in the dirt by a cat until its eventual death, it still dies in a way that no human would like to accept as his own fate.

    Now back to hogs! These animals, left unchecked with no natural predators, are an underestimated threat to the environment and a considerable financial concern for farmers. There are many ways to destroy them and control population. Hog Dogs are just a very effective way of doing it. Training these animals to do a job effectively is a daunting task. These competitions help develope traits in certain animals that are far better suited for the job at hand. Subsequent breeding of these quality dogs enables a hunter to greatly reduce training time and get down to business.

    We could drop poison from a helicopter to destroy hogs, but we’d kill a lot of other animals. We could carpet bomb Afghanistan, but we’d kill a lot of innocent people. Sometimes in order to address a problem someone has to do some dirty work.

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