Penned: Piglet on the loose no more
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3064or on Facebook.
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.