Allegations of animal abuse follow Upstate school's 'pig rodeo'

GREENWOOD, SC (WYFF) - After postings on Facebook and complaints from some parents and students, a school superintendent has responded to accusations of animal cruelty during a "pig rodeo" at a pep rally.

The pig rodeo was held at a pep rally for Ninety Six High and Edgewood Middle schools Thursday afternoon. Several parents complained that their children were traumatized by the way the pig was treated.

One parent, Bronwyn Shingler, wrote a Facebook post that has been widely shared claiming that the pig was "tortured" and that many students were distressed by the treatment of the animal, but were not allowed to leave.

She wrote, "Ninety Six High School and Edgewood Middle decided to have a "pig rodeo" at their pep rally. They brought in a young pig and placed it in a small enclosed area in the gym and students and faculty, including the superintendent Mark Peterson, proceeded to chase the terrified animal, catch it, and drop it to the floor.

"The animals head struck the gym floor several times as it was lifted shoulder height and spiked like a football. Students were crying and visibly upset by the pig's screams of terror and pain.

"Several students walked out and were mocked by a teacher for it. As other students tried to flee the grisly sight, they were forbidden and made to stay and listen to this animal be tortured. One young girl hid under the bleachers in tears. By the end of the ordeal, the pig could no longer walk. Students suspected his legs were broken.

"My children and several of their friends came home visibly distressed. I called the school and was told that they had received many calls and would forward my message. I never heard back.

"I called our local law enforcement and animal control and was told that they also were fielding many calls from outraged parents, but that they were present when this event took place and it wasn't criminal. They also told me that the school officials opinion was that if we have a problem, then take it to a board meeting.

"My daughter and others were told that this is going to be a yearly event, and that the pig was bred for this kind of thing."

Shingler encouraged others to call Greenwood Animal Control and the superintendent to complain about the treatment of the pig.

On Friday, Joe Mann, from Big Oaks Rescue Farm, asked to take the pig to a veterinarian to be sure it was OK. He was directed to a home where school officials said the pig was located, and he was given a pig that he took to Dr. Paula Watkins at Chinquapin Animal Hospital in Greenwood.

Mann said Watkins initially did not think it was the same pig used in the rodeo, but now those involved in rescuing the pig believe it is the one from the rodeo.

At about 1 p.m. Friday, Mann posted on the Big Oaks Rescue Farm Facebook page, "I picked the pig up this morning and she has been released to us. Paula Watkins, DMV, Chinquapin Animal Hospital has X-rayed and examined her this morning and found no broken bones, however did sustain bruising and soft tissue injuries. It has been rumored that this is not the same pig, but I disagree and have no doubts that this is the same pig. We have named her Charlotte."

WYFF News 4's Nigel Robertson contacted Peterson, who said he was not willing to respond on camera. Peterson did respond to Robertson via email saying, "I think the email was exaggerated. Yes, we did have a pig rodeo yesterday afternoon in the high school and the middle school was there as well.

"Despite what is being spread on Facebook, the pig is fine. Joe Mann, the local animal rescuers and advocate is visiting the pig and seeing for himself that the pig is fine. The pig was never thrown on the floor. The pig is receiving X-rays to show that he is fine.

"I would never harm an animal, let alone in front of children. This activity will not be scheduled again.

"I apologize to those that were offended."