Group releases video footage it says shows abuse at pig rassle

ALLOUEZ - That annual pig wrestling event in Outagamie County has come and gone, but opponents still aren't giving up.

An animal rights group revealed what it claims to be evidence of animal cruelty Thursday.

The event was Sunday at Saint Patrick Church in Stephensville. Along with pigs and parishioners, protesters also attended.

And those who oppose the "Pig Rassle" say they won't back down. They say people who support the event are breaking the law.

People filled the stands for St. Patrick's pig rassle last weekend. Deacon Ken Bilgrien says it was a fun, safe event.

"There were no incidences at all of a pig even getting compromised, much less any injury, and there was a veterinarian on the premises," said St. Patrick Deacon Ken Bilgrien.

Animal protection organization SHARK, which stands for Showing Animals Kindness and Respect, has another view.

"This is obviously cruel," said SHARK President Steve Hindi.

The group has released video footage of the church's fundraising event saying it shows what SHARK members describe as gangs of people bodyslamming pigs, handling them roughly and even injuring the animals.

"If that's not a fight, what is that? I mean somebody tell me what constitutes a fight if it's not that. And a fight between an animal and a human in Wisconsin is a felony," said Hindi.

Sheriff's officials tell FOX 11 this year's event was handled properly and deputies didn't see any violations. Thursday, Hindi walked into the Green Bay Catholic Diocese office with the video and thousands of dollars in cash.

"I am going to provide this information to the bishop. There's going to be discussion about it," said Green Bay Catholic Diocese Communications Director Justine Lodl.

Hindi offered an alternative event and said he'd put up $10 thousand if the church would make the change.

"All we have to do is replace the pigs with the priest, the bishop, the sheriff, all the people who said that this isn't abuse, that said this is good clean fun," said Hindi.

The diocese later issued a statement standing with the church.

Bilgrien says he hasn't seen SHARK's video footage, but expects a copy. Then, the event committee will take a look.

"We aren't trying to dodge anything," Bilgrien said.

Bilgrien says it hasn't been decided yet whether the pig rassle will be a go at next year's round-up event.

"Every year the committee gets together and reviews the whole event, all parts and pieces of it, and of course this is going to be a major segment of it," said Bilgrien.

FOX 11 tried to reach out to the farmer who owns the pigs. However, our attempts were unsuccessful.

SHARK members say they will call for an investigation into local, county and religious officials.

Hindi adds he plans to file complaints with state police and the attorney general's office by next week.