Facebook/Wheaten Mather

Man Who Recorded Animal Abuse at Iowa State Fair Banned for Life

Animal abuse? Sounds like it to me.

I'm super disappointed in management and executives at the Iowa State Fair for condoning this behavior and banning the person who reported the abuse. The boy is clearly hitting a squealing show pig in the face with a stick called a hog whip. This is supposed to be a 4-H run event and these are 4-H animals. The experience is supposed to teach and educate young children to handle animals humanely, right? What happened here? 

The Des Moines Register reported on this story and we refer to some of the quotes from their interviews with Wheaten Mather.  

As you see in the Facebook video taken by Wheaten Mather (if you choose to watch) the young boy, accompanied by a man, was hitting the animal with a show stick in the face, trying to get the pig onto a trailer.

"When that pig turned around, I could see he had lash marks on his face, and my heart just absolutely sank," Mather said.

He said he asked if striking pigs was standard practice at the fair. The woman said, "Yes. So I understand that the whip has a purpose and there is a technique to using it. This is clearly not the intent of the hog whip and you can see the lashes on the pig's face. 

If you'd like to watch the video, visit this post here. Since it involved a minor we are not including it in the article.

Mather engaged fair CEO and manager, Gary Slater. According to the Des Moines Register, Mather said Slater was tolerant of his questions about the pig incident at first. 

"Mather said Slater was tolerant of his questions at first, but then became perturbed the more he pressed for specific answers. Slater, he said, repeatedly deferred questions about the fair's responsibility to police animal cruelty, saying he should have addressed the treatment of the pig with the boy's family, or 4-H and FFA."

Minutes after the discussion, Mather said, Slater summoned fairgrounds police. An officer approached Mather, West and another friend and told them they were being ejected — for life.

Was this because Mather was aggressive or was it because he didn't want to answer the questions?

Here are the facts: 

  • Youth who compete in livestock competitions at the fair through 4-H and FFA sign a disclosure statement relating to vaccines and other animal health careand agree to follow fair rules.
  • The Code of Ethics for 4-H and FFA youth say: "I will treat all people and animals with respect. I will provide appropriate care for animals."
  • The 2019 livestock competition rules say: "The use of showing and/or handling practices or devices such as striking animals to cause swelling, using electrical contrivance or other similar practices are not acceptable and are prohibited.
  • Those who violate the rules "forfeit premiums, awards, and auction proceeds and shall be prohibited from the future exhibition ... Exhibitors who violate this code of ethics demean the integrity of all livestock exhibitors and should be prohibited from competition."

The fair's spokesperson said there is an animal care committee, and that animal abuse would be cause for removal of a competitor and cause for action by the Iowa State Fair board. She said any person who has concerns about how an animal is being cared for could go to the office in any livestock barn or speak to an animal care committee member.

So if this is true? I'm still curious about what happened? Banned for life?

I believe it's worth giving this guy his soapbox and this is mainly because I watched the video myself! I'm fairly confident this is the abuse of a show pig and all they needed was to load him onto a platform. The man who recorded pig's treatment had every right to show this to event organizers. Where are the adults? Why didn't the man with the young boy involve himself sooner and didn't he see there was someone recording this?

There is so much more to these county fairs than corn dogs and I love seeing the animals and the events. The fair police felt they needed to ban this man...for life? Really?

Know someone who would like to add livestock? Tell us in the comments below! 

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