Penned: Piglet on the loose no more

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Magazine & Pets - LINDA WIL­SON FUOCO

When so­cial me­dia spread the wordthat a piglet was run­ning loose in Wilkins­burg, the owner of Au Purr Pet Ser­vices and the founder of Pigs­burgh Squeal­ers Res­cue mo­bi­lized a search and res­cue ef­fort to bring the lit­tle piggy all the way home.

The 25-pound, 3-month-old piglet was first spot­ted July 3 in the Ard­more Boule­vard park­ing lot of WTAE-TV Pitts­burgh. For five days, an­i­mal lovers watched in hor­ro­ras the black pig ran up and down heav­ily trav­eled Ard­more Boule­vard and onto the Park­way East. He ran away from ev­ery­one who tried to help, of­ten es­cap­ing into the rel­a­tivesafety of wooded ar­eas.

“There were at least six peo­ple try­ing to catch him, but none of us re­ally had any ex­pe­ri­ence” at cap­tur­ing a ru­n­away pig, said Blue Martin, the owner of four pet mini pigs and founder of Pigs­burgh Squeal­er­sRes­cue.

No one could make this a full-time mis­sion “be­cause ev­ery­one had to go to work,” she said.

Heather Long works, too, but she’s self-em­ployed. She spent many hours, day and night, track­ing the pig and feed­ing him when she wasn’t walk­ing dogs or pet sit­ting for herAu Purr clients.

“We had hoped to save him be­fore­the July 4th fire­works,” Ms.Long said.

She brought him home­cooked food, in­clud­ing roasted Brus­sels sprouts and but­tered cab­bage, but he wouldn’t eat un­til she walked away.

“One night I started play­ing pig sounds from YouTube, and that seemed some­what sooth­ing.He took off when my phone bat­tery went dead,” Ms.Long said.

Her part­ner, Pete Finelli, has a hec­tic sched­ule as a med­i­cal stu­dent. But he made time on the night of July 6 to join her in the search. They got their arms around the piglet,but he slith­ered away.

“Pigs are very smart,” said Ms. Long, who adopted a mini-pig, Doc, from the An­i­mal Res­cue League four years agowith Mr. Finelli.

On July 7, Ms. Long po­si­tioned a large hu­mane dog trap in the piglet’s fa­vorite wood­edarea.

“I put a trail of food lead­ing up to the trap, which I made into a cozy den. When I got there Sun­day morn­ing, he was in the trap,” she said. “He wasn’tsqueal­ing or stressed.”

She was alone at the time, and it wasn’t easy to drag the pi­gin the poke back to her car. She­drove him to the Schen­ley Farms home that she and Mr. Finelli share with Doc the pig, four­dogs and a cat.

Ms. Long and Ms. Martin are now look­ing for a per­ma­nent home for the pig that they orig­i­nally called Un­cle Sam be­cause he was run­ning free on Amer­ica’s In­de­pen­denceDay.

“That name doesn’t suit him, so I’m call­ing him Buck­ing­Ham,” Ms. Long ex­plained.

The piglet gets along with the­cou­ple’s three pit bulls, she said, but he hasn’t met Doc — and isn’t go­ing to. Buck­ing­Ham has not been neutered yet and would not get along with Doc, a neutered male.

Pigs­burgh Squeal­ers is rais­ing money to pay for the neuter­surgery, which usu­ally costs about $150 for a pig. But Buck­ing­Ham’s tes­ti­cles have not de­scended, so the surgery will be more in­va­sive and more ex­pen­sive — $350-$450, Ms.Martin said.

De­spite five days of run­ning away from peo­ple who wanted to help him, Buck­ing­Ham is now “in­cred­i­bly sweet,”Ms. Martin said.

Ms. Martin, 28, who is a biomed­i­cal en­gi­neer with PECA Labs, started Pigs­burgh Squeal­ers in 2016. Her boyfriend, Zack Robin­son, 31, an elec­tri­cal­tech­ni­cian, works in the res­cue with her. They have found homes for more thantwo dozen mini pigs.

Dona­tions for Buck­ing­Ham’s surgery can be made at www.pigs­burgh­squeal­ers. or mailed to 724 North Pike Road,Cabot, PA 16023.

Linda Wil­son Fuoco: or 412-263-3064or on Face­book.

Pam Pan­chak/Post-Gazette

Buck­ing­Ham, a 3-month-old mini-pig, gets a scratch on the head from his fos­ter-mom, Heather Long, at her home in Schen­ley Farms.

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