Time's Up on Chincoteague's Dangerous and Reckless Pony Swim and Auction, Says Group
For Immediate Release:
July 31, 2018
David Perle 202-483-7382
Chincoteague, Va. – After a wild pony named Butterfly Kisses died in a pen after the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s (CVFC) annual Pony Swim and Auction on July 26, PETA sent a letter today urging the CVFC to make 2018 the event’s final year and to adopt humane fundraising and herd-management methods in the future. PETA had previously contacted the CVFC about ending the swim and auction in May, but this pony’s death should put a nail in the event’s coffin, the group says.
“This pony’s needless death is the latest proof that continuing to pen ponies and auction off their foals makes the Chincoteague fire department look increasingly backwards, reckless, and cruel,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on organizers to face up to the fact that times have changed and banish this sad spectacle to the history books before another pony is injured or dies.”
PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way.” For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to CVFC Public Relations Officer Denise P. Bowden follows.
July 31, 2018
Denise P. Bowden
Public Relations Officer
Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company
Dear Ms. Bowden,
I’m writing again on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including thousands across Virginia, where our headquarters are, in response to the death of Butterfly Kisses. She died needlessly of a broken neck after being chased into a pen and left behind a now-motherless foal. Once again, we urge you to end the annual pony swim and auction and instead find humane ways to raise funds for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department’s important work while managing the pony herd’s size.
Butterfly Kisses’ death is more evidence that penning up wild ponies and auctioning off foals are reckless. Had she not been penned at the carnival grounds after the auction, she would still be alive. This is not the first time that a pony has died at the fairgrounds or the first death that has been written off as an “accident.” Reports going back decades discuss how frightening and stressful the ordeal is for these animals and how ponies have been seen penned without access to shade or water and hit with sticks.
While in theory a few auctioned ponies may go to good homes with families who have the money to take care of them, their fate is never certain after they are sold and there is the strong possibility that they may end up at slaughterhouses or neglected and starved as new guardians lose interest in them.
It’s time to reconsider what you are doing. Since this event’s inception, much has changed in the way that people view animals—who were once seen merely as commodities—and in the development of humane population-control methods. This pony swim is similar to other festivals, such as turkey drops and greased pig wrestling, that have taken their places in the annals of history as examples of the callous disregard of other living, feeling beings. Won’t you please choose to raise funds with events that are modern and animal-friendly? We’d be happy to discuss suggestions with you. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk