Tuesday morning I was contacted by Diana Bzik from Specialty K9 Search and Recovery, an amazing SAR team that locates lost and missing humans.
Sunday morning, the SAR team was conducting training with their dogs in the deep woods of Newfoundland, NJ when some hikers made them aware of three loose pigs. They tried to catch them but the pigs were just too frightened and too fast and would run off into the woods and hide. It is believed that they were dumped sometime that morning.
These woods were incredibly dangerous for them to be roaming, packs of coyote, bear and a bobcat was seen down the dirt road that morning. Time was of the essence to get them to safety although they would not make their capture easy.
The three little potbellied were constantly together and never apart, they worked as a little team and relied on one another to survive. Capture had to be handled carefully. It was critical that we get them all together. Pigs are incredibly intelligent and if they saw one of their buddies captured, it could sabotage getting the others.
An enclosure was set in an area off the road where they kept coming back to. I set it for remote control capture, so I could control the door shutting when all three were in. They circled it for quite some time but then retreated back into the woods. I felt that the enclosure needed to be moved deeper in the woods so they wouldn’t feel as vulnerable with being so exposed and out in the open. They quickly found the food at the new spot, but we had to condition them for a couple days as they slowly but surely began to progress in. The problem was there is zero cell service in the area and we would not have the luxury of live feed cameras to view the enclosure, so it was back to old school trapping of checking SD cards.
The enclosure was stocked with peanut butter sandwiches, watermelon, blueberries, bananas, strawberries and some oreo cookies, they ate everything but the strawberries. Today two of us were stationed in our cars in different locations, we communicated with each other with handheld radios. We rigged a baby camera so that I could watch live, I needed to be able to watch them so I knew when all three were in so I could trigger the door.
One would go in while the other two stood guard outside, the one would grab food and run out as fast as he could and share with the other two. Then two would go in and run out, there was always one that wouldn’t go in. They circled and rooted to try and get that food from the outside. I listened as they snorted and grunted in frustration, this dance went on for about an hour. Then I watched as they single file, with purpose made their way to the door, it was like they had a little pow wow and had a plan of their own. One by one they went in… all three were finally in, all the way to the back and I held my breath and hit that button…. BOOM, the three little piggies were captured!!!
Cindy Rinehart, from the LLost West Milford Petspage, Diana Bzik, and Sue Lavoie from Specialty K9 Search and Recovery…. we made a pretty bad ass team!!!! Thank you to the WWest Milford Animal Shelter Society for allowing us to bring them there, they now have a cozy suite and settled right in while we look to find them a home or sanctuary.
Without this SAR team speaking up, these little ones didn’t stand a chance. If you see something, say something!!!
Tonight, these three terrified little potbellied pigs are snuggled up with each other in blankets, safe and sound!!!