Hogs and Dogs

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.

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.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

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

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in National

From This Author

Just In