Help, my pig suf­fers from PTSD - owner


There was no get­ting around it: Amanda Clark’s pig might have had post-trau­matic stress disor­der.

Dum­ble­dore was so hor­ri­fied he lost the urge to walk.

Now, Clark has called for help to re­ha­bil­i­tate Dum­ble­dore, who she be­lieves was trau­ma­tised by get­ting tan­gled in an elec­tric fence dur­ing a storm about two years ago.

Dum­ble­dore, a large white, is now on the road to re­cov­ery, thanks to dona­tions of a spe­cial walk­ing frame, and a pig-vest from Weta Work­shop, but he needs more space, and shel­ter, to help his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Dum­ble­dore’s trou­bles stemmed from a stormy night when his head be­came en­tan­gled in an elec­tric fence while he was stay­ing on an Up­per Hutt farm.

Clark heard screams and grabbed rub­ber gloves, slipped on rub­ber boots and used bolt cut­ters to free him.

‘‘If what I was get­ting was any gauge, he was get­ting some pretty nasty shocks.’’

When freed, Dum­ble­dore was vir­tu­ally cata­tonic, she said. She placed blan­kets over him to com­fort him: he seemed all right, but then sev­eral months later started de­vel­op­ing trou­bling symp­toms.

He be­came reclu­sive – cow­er­ing, and eas­ily star­tled by loud noises and clicks. Then he ap­peared to lose the abil­ity to walk.

Vets were un­able to say whether it was a phys­i­cal prob­lem, but Clark, who lives in Otaki Gorge, on the Kapiti Coast north of Welling­ton, be­lieved it could be a type of an­i­mal PTSD.

She said even­tu­ally Dum­ble­dore started to re­gain the use of his legs, drag­ging him­self up off the ground us­ing fences and other struc­tures as lever­age.

He would man­age a few paces then would stum­ble over, but would al­ways try again.

She was given a spe­cial walk­ing-frame de­vice by Scafit, and the Weta Work­shop vest, which at­taches him to the frame.

The rig func­tions as a lift­ing de­vice, then as a walk­ing aid, to help re­build mus­cle tone, as with hu­mans who need re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion af­ter long pe­ri­ods of im­mo­bil­ity.

But Clark’s prop­erty in Otaki Gorge is wet and un­shel­tered. She said Dum­ble­dore needed a cov­ered area large enough to work him ev­ery day, re­gard­less of the weather, and with firm foot­ing and flat ter­rain so the rig could work.

It was not about the time or the money, she said. Dum­ble­dore was her mate, and she loved him.

‘‘I’m a veg­e­tar­ian and an an­i­mal con­scious­ness ad­vo­cate, and I be­lieve he’s got the same right to long-term treat­ment as a hu­man.’’

Massey Univer­sity lec­turer and be­hav­iour vet­eri­nar­ian Rachael Strat­ton said it was pos­si­ble Dum­ble­dore could in­deed have had an­i­mal PTSD.

An­i­mals ex­pe­ri­enced both neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive emo­tions, she said.

‘‘The short an­swer is yes, we know we can get on­go­ing be­havioural con­se­quences be­cause of a trau­matic event ... it’s highly plau­si­ble that the pig suf­fers some fear and anx­i­ety from that event.’’

She said Dum­ble­dore’s con­di­tion could have been trig­gered by phys­i­cal sur­round­ings, or cir­cum­stances sim­i­lar to those when he was shocked, or he could suf­fer from gen­er­alised on­go­ing anx­i­ety.

‘‘It is pos­si­ble. I’ve never treated a pig with gen­er­alised anx­i­ety be­fore, but it is pos­si­ble.’’

She said so­lu­tions to PTSD in­cluded ther­apy to de­sen­si­tise an­i­mals to their trig­gers, and an­tianx­i­ety med­i­ca­tion.

Amanda Clark wants as­sis­tance to re­ha­bil­i­tate her pig Dum­ble­dore, who suf­fered se­vere stress af­ter an elec­tric fence ac­ci­dent.

Dum­ble­dore’s harness was do­nated by Sir Richard Tay­lor, of Weta Work­shop. It will help Dum­ble­dore stand and use his legs again. Amanda Clark on her pig Dum­ble­dore

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