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Police, volunteers corral loose pig

by on March 23, 2014 2:00 AM

A pig of unknown breed, origin, name, age, address or purpose in life eluded local residents, a team of animal rescue specialists and five Indiana Borough police officers for almost three hours Saturday afternoon in Indiana’s Second Ward.

“He really showed us how we’re not all in good shape!” said Carrie Norris-Hodak, board president of the Indiana County Animal Response Team.

There was no grease involved.

The boar, estimated to be about 200 pounds, simply darted his way around and past police and ICART volunteers until eventually being wrestled to the ground and tied up for transport to the Indiana County Humane Society animal shelter in White Township.

Where he’ll go next is as much a mystery as where he came from.

Lisa Wier, the kennel manager and an ICART team member, said there was an early unconfirmed report of a sighting on East Pike in White Township.

But the first of many calls came in to Indiana Borough police at 2:17 p.m., from residents reporting the pig wandering along the 200 block of Washington Street, said Patrolman Eric Slovinsky, one of the first officers to reach the scene.

Within a half hour, the ICART team of about seven volunteers responded, and neighbors pitched in, too, Norris said.

The pig led a chase through back yards of homes along South Third Street to Poplar, then doubled back toward Washington before being captured at 5:07 p.m., Norris said.

Some neighbors and spectators shot photos and video.

Dean Naponic offered up his yard at 306 Poplar St. for a place where ICART and police could try to funnel the pig.

The chase broke the routine string of calls to deal with raccoons, skunks, opossums — “normal animals” — that police often hand off to humane officials and others, Slovinsky said.

To police, it brought back memories of rounding up stray chickens recently on South Seventh Street.

Norris said the chase ranked among the most unusual for ICART since they helped pull a cow from a manure pit on a frigid winter day in the Amish territory of northwestern Indiana County.

To the ICART volunteers, though, it was the first chance in the group’s eight year history that the volunteers had the chance to put pig pursuit training into practice. Their technique is the same used by dozens of Indiana County farm kids who ride herd on their swine in the barns at the Indiana County Fair grounds each year: the use of pig boards, which ICART actually keeps in stock, Norris said.

“When we came out today, we were prepared. We learned from our training about how the CART group in Clearfield County a few nears ago had been called out to catch pigs on Interstate 80.

“We had big boards to lead him around,” Norris explained. “We tried to guide him through the gate to Dean’s fenced-in yard.”

A nearly successful tactic.

“Then he found the only gap between the boards and ran between all of us,” she said. “We all ran to try and get him back.”

Catching a pig is done by understanding the pig’s mind, Norris explained.

“They respond like a dog,” she said. “If they start running and you run after them, they keep running. You have to get in front of him and get him back in the opposite direction.

“He was a rather smart boar, and he was quick — and he knew how to growl and snap at you, and how to find the gaps.”

Once in captivity, Norris said there were no signs of problems with the animal.

“He had no visible injuries; he wasn’t limping,” she said. “He looked like he was well taken care of.”

Given a supply of fresh food, water and straw bedding at the animal shelter, Wier said the pig calmed down.

“He had a couple of scratches, but that’s probably from the bushes and fences he ran through,” she said.

The boar has all the appearance of being raised on a farm or in someone’s back yard; certainly not a feral pig wandering into town from the wild, officials said.

Wier said no one recognized the pig’s breed, and that he hadn’t been measured or weighed after being taken in.

So far, none of the rescuers had heard any reports from anyone in the area who is missing a pig.

“Hopefully, an owner will come forward and he can go back where he came from,” Wier said. “If not, we’ll try to get him into a foster home.”

Anyone claiming the pig should produce proof of ownership or have some way of identifying him, Wier said.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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