“There they were, strolling down an alleyway with piglets following,” said Moriarty Animal Control Officer and Director Chelsea Worely, describing an unusual call Dec. 7. A public works officer was in Moriarty and called animal control to report loose pigs running around the city.
“I responded immediately, thinking it was probably just a dog,” Worely said. She added that when the team got to the scene they did in fact find a family of pigs wandering around, an adult male and female and half a dozen piglets.
Worely said it’s pretty unusual for the department to get a call about livestock, because within the city limits of Moriarty, livestock is not allowed. She said occasionally they get calls about chickens—which are allowed—but mostly the calls are about pets like cats and dogs.
Neighbors in the area pointed out which house they thought the pigs likely belonged to, but at the time of the call there was no one home.
Worely said when they arrived it seemed like the pigs must have gotten out of the yard even though it seemed pretty secure. She added that pigs, a highly intelligent creature, are notorious for being able to dig and push their way out of fenced areas.
After locating the pigs in the alley, an epic game of chase started, but for some reason, the pig family was reluctant to allow themselves to be caught.
The response team was made up of three officers and several neighbors, who chased the pigs all over the Parkwood neighborhood, until finally, intervention by a curious stray dog helped corral the pigs.
Worely said the dog is large and very friendly, and her team was already acquainted with him because he gets out of his yard a lot. “He seemed really interested in the pigs,” she said.
The dog was able to help guide the sow to an area where the team could catch her, and the nursing piglets soon followed. But the boar was a different story, and led the chase from block to block—had the dog not helped secure him in another yard, they might not have caught him so quickly. “My Captain [Mark Satterfield] is very athletic, and we had two more officers plus neighbors … Several of us were out there running all over this neighborhood, attempting to catch these pigs. Pigs, they are fast!” said Worely, laughing.
After finally getting Daddy Pig pinned, the team carried him out by his feet—a hog tie without rope.
Worley said the protocol is to take animals to the shelter, and from there the owners have three days to respond and claim the animals before they are adopted out.
A gentleman had pigs at his house, unaware of the fact that were not allowed within the city, Worely said. He also seemed to be unaware that his female pig was pregnant until the arrival of the piglets.
The man did reach out to animal control after the pigs were found. Worley said the city cannot allow him to take them back home. On Dec. 10, the man was able to reclaim his pigs and had them transported to family living outside of the city limits.
Worely said that the first night the pigs were at the shelter they managed to root under the fence and get into another controlled area. The shelter has three fence structures to pass through in the event that they have an escape artist on their hands, and the would-be runaway pigs did not make it out of the building.
Worely said the day they attempted to catch the pigs they seemed wary of humans and reluctant to be caught, but after a night in the shelter they had warmed up not only enough to attempt escape, but to accept snacks and affection. “They are very social pigs. They were probably around kids or spent a lot of time with humans,” she said.
Note from the reporter: This story is dedicated to my grandma Patricia Harriman, whose love of pigs filled my childhood with laughter and fun.