MEDIA RELEASE: Shocking Animal Cruelty at Ham Rodeo in Bandera To Benefit Children

MEDIA RELEASE: Shocking Animal Cruelty at Ham Rodeo in Bandera To Benefit Children

BANDERA, Texas (April 1, 2023)In Defense of Animals and Unparalleled Suffering reveal shocking undercover video of “hog-sacking” or “hog rodeo” contests that will take place at the Ham Rodeo in Bandera tomorrow. Over 17,000 people have written to event sponsors and organizers urging them to cancel, defund, and stop supporting these ruthless games that condone, normalize, and glorify animal cruelty and replace them with humane, animal-free alternatives. 

During the Bandera Wrangler’s Ham Rodeo in Bandera, teams of two children or adults have a minute each to capture a pig, get the pig into a burlap feed sack, and drag the sack across the finish line — all to win a belt buckle. The pigs clearly demonstrate their unwillingness to be involved by avoiding the participants at all costs as well as the chute into the arena. This results in them being kicked, pulled, or dragged into the ring screaming by one or two people. As they desperately try to flee, many pigs jump into fences head first at full speed, causing bloody faces and mouths that the announcers have the nerve to call “nose bleeds.” Ironically, this cruelty benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bandera County.

Watch this undercover video, which contrasts the cruel treatment of wild hogs at the Ham Rodeo in Bandera with wild hogs who reside in peace at a sanctuary:

During wild hog bagging contests, wild hog mothers and babies are traumatized, injured, and killed in the name of entertainment. No one responds with mercy to their piercing screams. Mother hogs can't save their babies from harm. Babies are pulled, dragged, and lifted by their legs and ears causing painful dislocations, and ruptured muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Their desperate attempts to escape the arena are met with more injuries like bloody mouths and concussions.

“The Ham Rodeo in Bandera is absolutely heartbreaking,” said Lisa Levinson, Campaigns Director for In Defense of Animals. “Imagine how it would feel to be a free-roaming wild hog mother or baby who was trapped and taken from your home in nature and thrown in the ring with rowdy, jeering people who enjoyed injuring you and your family for no apparent reason. Sadly, participants appear to lack compassion and empathy for sentient beings, such as our wild animal neighbors. It appears that Texas family values are not extended to animal families.” 

Read: Detailed witness account of wild hog bagging at Ham Rodeo

Video: Ham Rodeo Wild Hog Bagging

“If anyone wants to see what ultimate disregard towards other living beings looks like, then look no further than the Texas hog bagging events. Free-living pigs, including babies and mothers, are trapped, trafficked, tormented, and brutalized for shoddy human entertainment and malice before they are later killed. Like most pigs who have forced relationships with humans, all they are met with before they die is pure evil.” 

— Unparalleled Suffering, undercover investigator

Pigs are peaceful and as intelligent as three-year-old children. They can solve puzzles, use tools, play video games, and dream. Photo: Unparalleled Suffering

Pigs, the vast majority of whom are very young, are used over and over again as their desperate escape attempts fail and their screams, squeals, and bloody mouths are met with heckling, apathy, and indifference. The trembling pigs huddle together in fear and pain in their pens without access to any food or drinking water.

“Our supporters are very concerned about the blatant animal cruelty and lack of compassion taking place at the Frio River Fest in Concan, Ham Rodeo in Bandera, and Wild Hog Festival & Craft Fair in Sabinal,” continues Levinson. “Undercover videos show participants laughing at the incredible suffering of mostly baby and female hogs, who are trapped and rendered defenseless during this barbaric event that is reminiscent of ancient Roman gladiator games. We urge the event sponsors and beneficiaries to withdraw their support of hog sacking events which promote violence towards innocent animals, in favor of humane events without animals.

Texas law defines animal torture as “any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering. A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortures an animal or in a cruel manner kills or causes serious bodily injury to an animal.”

“Ham Rodeo contestants risk prosecution for breaking animal cruelty laws,” said Fleur Dawes, Communications Director for In Defense of Animals. “Animal abuse is a crime, no matter the species. Taking part in an event does not exempt someone from animal abuse charges.”

Contestants also risk getting diseases from pig blood, urine and feces.

Unparalleled Suffering’s exposé in 2019 caused public outrage. PETA brought a lawsuit against the event organizers and Texan actor Woody Harrelson sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbot condemning the event. Warriors Heart canceled the event, but Bandera Wranglers picked it up and relaunched it the very next day.

Texas citizens are urged to find out more and take action at:

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Contacts for interviews: 

Lisa Levinson, In Defense of Animals, Campaigns Director, [email protected], 215-620-2130
Unparalleled Suffering, [email protected], 512-333-1883

Petition Letter to the Ham Rodeo organizers, sponsors, and beneficiaries: 

  • Bandera Wranglers
  • Bandera Pioneer River Resort
  • Bandera Spirit of Texas
  • Bandera True Value
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Bandera County

Cancel Cruel Hog Sacking Events & Replace Them with Humane Alternatives

As a person who is concerned about the treatment of animals and one of In Defense of Animals’ 250,000 supporters, I respectfully request that you cancel, defund, or relinquish your support of the incredibly inhumane hog bagging events taking place now in your area. Instead, please replace these cruel events with humane, animal-free alternatives. 

During hog bagging events, terrified and helpless wild pig families are chased, grabbed, and thrown into bags, sometimes on top of each other. The pigs huddle together in fear in their pens without access to food or drinking water. Mostly female, very young, or pigs who have their tusks removed, are used over and over again as their desperate escape attempts fail and their screams, squeals, and bloody mouths are met with apathy and indifference. 

Children who participated in previous events were documented dropping piglets on the ground and holding them upside down by just a single leg. This pain-inducing treatment of animals is not only terrible for the animals who are experiencing it without relief, but it also teaches children that animals are not sentient beings who feel physical and emotional pain. It also normalizes violence, which is not something to encourage in a healthy society that resolves issues with civility and words, not ruthless violence. 

Instead, I encourage you to host, sponsor, and support events and fundraisers for everyone that omit animals such as three-legged races and obstacle courses for people that foster healthy exercise and team spirit without harming animals. I am glad to see that some of the festivals already involve other fun animal-free activities like music and crafts that celebrate local history and culture, which I wholeheartedly support.

This is your golden opportunity to refresh regional events with new activities that uplift the community and support the collective values of kindness and compassion for all living beings, including our wild animal neighbors. Please cancel the upcoming and future hog bagging events taking place and replace them with humane alternatives that everyone can join with confidence. 

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in California with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, rural Mississippi, and California.

Unparalleled Suffering is a photographer, filmmaker, and writer who shares documentation and stories about the plight of animals entangled in the web of ever expanding human supremacy, indoctrination, and disregard for living beings.


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