- Associated Press - Saturday, July 22, 2017

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) - Almost three weeks ago, Flo was among 2,300 young pigs heading to a farm and the eventual fate of becoming bacon and sausage, but a crash suddenly gave her a new home and a new chance at life.

A tractor-trailer hauling 2,300 pigs overturned June 29, on Interstate 77 not far from the Ingleside exit between Princeton and Bluefield. The driver was not injured, but first responders suddenly had to deal with hundreds of pigs trapped in a trailer. Firefighters were soon spraying water into the trailer to keep the pigs cool.

More than 1,000 pigs died in the crash and afterward from injuries, shock and other causes. Mercer County doesn’t have a stock yard large enough to hold so many animals at once, so word soon spread that anyone who wanted to adopt some pigs could come and get them. About 60 pigs rescued by the Mercer County Animals Shelter were adopted within an hour. Local farmers and others arrived with trailers, pickup trucks and even cars to collect even more pigs. The small pigs, weighing between 12 to 20 pounds apiece, were passed from person-to-person from the wreckage to new owners.

Magistrate Charles Poe remembered how Mercer County Sheriff Tommy Bailey told him about the crash and suggested that they go to the scene.

“He said there was a pig truck - that’s the way he described it - that wrecked on 77 at the 5 mile marker and he asked me to ride down there with him,” Poe recalled. “Well we got there, the truck had turned over and the pigs were squealing and all that. It was 90 degrees or so, it was hot. And the next thing was that they couldn’t get the pigs out of there. At the time, you couldn’t see how many were alive or dead.”

When the decision was made to let members of the public adopt pigs, Poe decided to get one, too.

“I thought, well, these were babies. Little bitty pigs. I thought, well, I’ll get one of them,” he said. “Well, how do you haul it? We were down there in a police car and we could have put it in the back, but I had a friend down there that I told to get me one, one of the small ones. And he said okay. He got some of the pigs and he left.”

By the end of the day, Poe went to his friend’s home and saw several pigs in a small pen. He chose one of the smaller ones. It was placed in a box and he was soon taking it home.

“The thing about a pig, pig’s are intelligent,” he said.”They’re as loyal and can be as intelligent as a dog. There was one little bitty one, and I said ‘I want that one right there.’ They picked it up and put it in a box; and, of course, it squealed and grunted and carried on. I put it in the car, and when I was going down the road it came up out of the box and came up in the seat. It wasn’t being afraid. It wasn’t aggressive. To be quite honest, when we pulled them out, none of them were aggressive. These were baby pigs.”

“Well, I got the pig home, of course it was scared to death and I realized someone’s got to take care of it,” Poe said. “They can be messy and somebody had to put a diaper on it. The thing was small and didn’t even have teeth, so we actually bottle fed it. We bottle fed it for a couple of days.”

Poe took the pig to a person who has experience raising small animals. The pig, by then dubbed Flo because she “goes with the flow,” was adjusting to her new surroundings.

“It kind of fell into place. It thought it was a dog and it played with the dogs and everything else,” Poe said. “And the good thing about having a pig, if you’ve got a snake problem, they’ll get rid of it. Pigs eat snakes. Not only do they eat them, they’ll dig them out of the ground.”

“I’ve got it in a place where somebody’s taking care of it, and it is being treated more as a pet than a side of bacon, ham or whatever,” he continued. “When I took the pig home I put it in a fenced yard, it would look to see where I was at, and if I walked off it wanted to come back and follow me. You could tell it wanted attention.”

Soon Flo, dressed in a diaper and booties, was getting new admirers on social media.

“I decided to put it on Facebook and it got quite a few hits. It’s a baby, it’s a living animal,” Poe said. “It almost puts you in a position where you don’t want to eat pork anymore, because that’s where it comes from. You take this little pig and roll it on its belly and it looks like a dog. It grunts and squeals and carries on like pigs are supposed to do.”

Flo is a pet for now. One day she will be a hog, but Poe said he didn’t believe she would get very big; he estimated her future weight as between 150 and 200 pounds.

“Still it’s a pretty good size animal and pigs can be dangerous,” he stated. “They could hurt you; again, it’s all in how you raise it, but it’s a living, breathing animal. And it’s a baby.”


Information from: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, https://www.bdtonline.com

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