Hogs rescued from dog 'rodeo' to be destroyed
By By Mary-Allison Lancaster Managing editor
County officials will be burying some 45 hogs that they were rescued after law enforcement officials broke up a hog/dog sporting event held near Flomaton in late February. Nine out of the 10 hogs tested positive for pseudorabies.
Currently, the hogs have been detained and were scheduled to be buried as early as Tuesday afternoon, with weather conditions playing a major factor in the burial dates. Once the weather clears, the hogs will be euthanized and buried on a privately-owned tract of land.
Officials want to bury the hogs as soon as possible in an effort to deter any outbreak of the disease brucellosis, which is passed on to domestic animals, farm animals and humans.
Pseudorabies is a viral disease found mostly in swine, often causing newborn piglets to die. Older pigs that survive infection become carriers of the disease for life.
The pseudorabies infection can be passed to cattle and sheep. Often, the first sign of the disease is scratching and biting at themselves. However, in dogs and cats, it can cause sudden death. Pseudorabies cannot cause illness in humans.
Brucellosis is a contagious, uncurable and costly disease that can also infect humans. Female pigs were not tested for pseudorabies since they are normal carriers of brucellosis. The USDA reported that as of June 2000, there were only six known brucellosis affected herds remaining in the United States.
People infected with brucellosis, or undulant fever, can develop symptoms similar to the flu, but it tends to last for several weeks or months and can become progressively worse. Symptoms can include fatigue and headaches, followed by high fever, chills, drenching sweats, joint pains, backache and loss of weight and appetite. While undulant fever is not deadly to humans, USDA officials warn to not take the disease lightly.
According to USDA, there is no danger from eating cooked meat products because the disease causing bacteria are not normally found in muscle tissue, and normal cooking temperatures kill the bacteria.
The hogs were recovered from the "Double P Catch Pen" hog/dog event held in late-February. After a year-long investigation conducted by the Escambia County Sheriff's Department and the state Department of Agriculture and Alabama Department of Conservation, three men were each charged with one count of animal cruelty, which is a misdemeanor crime.
Sammy Ray Portwood, 36, of Community Church Road; Daniel E. Brock, 60, of Wolflog Road in Flomaton; Blake Stephen Riddle, 46, of 220 Riddle Road in Brewton, who was the most recent individual arrested in the hog/dog event.
Each individual can spend up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if found guilty.