Stop Abusing Pigs at Annual Church Celebration


Target: Deacon Ken Bilgrien, St. Patrick Parish, Stephensville, Wisconsin

Goal: Stop church from including dangerous “Pig Rassle” as part of annual celebratory event

Roundup Days for St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville, Wisconsin is the annual parish celebration and fundraiser. Again this year the parish insisted on holding their Pig Rassle, during which groups of 2-6 people enter a mud pen with a pig and wrestle the animal until they can put the poor creature into or onto a barrel.

Pigs are the smartest domesticated animal. They are seldom aggressive and do not tolerate heat very well as they have no sweat glands. Pig wrestling typically involves a pig getting greased up and released into an area where it is chased around and caught through very physical means on the part of the wrestlers. Very often these events take place in the height of summer heat. That pigs have no sweat glands and don’t fare well in heat only amplifies the stress of this animal. The other indignities of pig wrestling typically include the pig getting body slammed, hit, kicked and forcibly restrained. Because of Wisconsin’s pig disease controls, once an animal is in a pig wrestling event, it cannot be returned to the farm from where it originated and, after following the abuse from such a wrestling event, the pig is sent to market.

St. Patrick’s Parish in Stephensville, Wisconsin insists on continuing this barbaric tradition, claiming that it is a long-standing and popular function for them, adding that it is not an illegal practice in Wisconsin.

Catholic Online even wrote an article regarding the event, concluding that though this event has been in existence for 44-years, the history does not justify the tradition. St. Patrick Parish needs to realize that this event is indeed from an era that is past, for good reason. This parish has been veiling their fundraising efforts under the guise of tradition. The church leaders need to find other ways to celebrate and fundraise. Sign this petition to ask St. Patrick Parish to stop this barbaric tradition in the name of humane treatment of animals.


Dear Deacon Bilgrien,

I understand the need for fundraising and the desire to have an annual celebration of your community. This does not negate the need to be aware of cruelty to animals, brought about through your annual Pig Rassle.

Despite the observable stress the animal goes through during this event, as demonstrated by the animal running in fright and squealing while trying to escape body slams and physical restraint from the participants, you must consider that pigs, without sweat glands, cannot bear excessive heat. Your summertime event puts the animals at multiple risks.

The current pope is named Francis, after St. Francis, the benefactor of animals. I have serious doubts that such an event would be looked upon kindly by anyone with respect for animals.

Please stop reaffirming the belief to your congregation that this is a harmless event. It is simply not true. What teaching is this event truly bringing to your parishioners? You must find another way of uniting your community.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Steven Lek via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. paula eaton says:

    The church leaders and members have no respect for God’s creatures. They condone the abuse of innocent creatures, criminal &shameful.

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