Hogs and Dogs

More

by Brendan I. Koerner

There's controversy brewing in southern Mississippi, where Jackson County recently approved a hog-dog bay. That's an event in which a hunting dog corners a boar in a pen, to the ostensible delight of onlookers. To those who oppose the practice, it comes perilously close to an interspecies take on dogfighting; to its fans, it's simply a regional spin on rodeo. (Want to decide for yourself? Here's some video.)

Though the hearings on the bay brought out tons of heated emotions from animal-welfare advocates and hog-dog bayers alike, the outcome was never really in doubt. That's because the sport is actually enshrined in Mississippi's state code:

(2) It is unlawful for any person to organize or conduct any commercial event commonly referred to as a "catch" wherein there is a display of combat or fighting among one or more domestic or feral canines and feral or domestic hogs and in which it is intended or reasonably foreseeable that the canines or hogs would be injured, maimed, mutilated, or killed.

(3) It is unlawful for any person to organize, conduct or financially or materially support any event prohibited by this section.

(4) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any competitive event in which canines trained for hunting or herding activities are released in an open or enclosed area to locate and corner hogs, commonly referred to as a "bay event," and in which competitive points are deducted if a hog is caught and held.

As supporters of hog-dog baying readily admit, accidents do happen. Yet is that risk reason enough to ban the activity?

Given my affection for meat, I always feel morally unqualified to tackle animal-welfare quandaries. I'm a confessed city slicker, so I'll probably never grok the pleasure to be had in watching a dog chase a hog. But does baying's policy of preventing bloodshed make it no more immoral than standard rodeo events? (I won't draw the mixed martial arts comparison, because human competitors have a lot more choice in the matter.)

I'm seriously on the fence about this, so hoping the learned Coates commentariat can chime in and assist.

See also: Microkhan on the morality of zoos.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

It's the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In