Runaway NJ pig caught after 6 weeks may have saved his own bacon
HACKETTSTOWN — When animal control officer Robbie Lagonera is trying to corral a loose or wild animal, his usual rule is to not feed them. But recently he made an exception after spending six weeks trying to round up a pig that escaped from the Hackettstown Livestock Auction.
The animal made its way around town, crossing the busy Grand Avenue on several locations, Lagonera said.
When the pig first escaped it was not much bigger than a small dog. By the time the pig was found six weeks later, he weighed around 60 pounds.
Now, Lagonera is trying to find a new home for the pig. He said the animal's previous owner was OK with it going to a rescue group or a sanctuary. With the pig being so rambunctious, he said they are likely going to try to train and tame it before sending it to a new forever home.
"In general, he's definitely going to some type of farm to live out the rest of his life," he said.
Getting the pig captured last Wednesday proved to be no easy feat and Lagonera said pigs are known to be smarter than dogs. He said he tried to use a dog trap to catch the animal and knew catching it by hand would be risky.
"Anytime you're dealing with any kind of animal that is afraid or not trusting or anything like that, if you fail at an attempt to try and catch it by hand once it won't trust you ever again and you'll never get any closer," he said. "I wasn't going to take a shot at it unless I'm sure."
It took longer than he'd expected, but he eventually got the break he was looking for when a resident called to tell him that the pig had come to her property on a daily basis, and that she had been feeding him. Knowing that the other traps he had set had not worked in the past, Lagonera came up with a new plan as he devised a humane trap using a large dog kennel.
After setting the trap and loading it with birdseed and corn, Lagonera said he went about his business, but quickly got a call reporting that the pig had fallen for the trap. Getting him out of the trap proved almost as difficult as the pig bit his legs several times, he said. Video of him bringing the animal into a municipal barn showed just how energetic the pig is, and why it was so hard to corral him.
"He's definitely stronger than you would imagine. I'm thankful that I caught him at this point, rather than later," he said. "Once he's got double my weight on me it would be a lot harder to tell him where to go."
As an animal control officer for six years, Lagonera said he has had some unusual calls. On Tuesday when he talked to New Jersey 101.5 he had just come from rescuing a a deer out of a retention pond. He was also the animal control officer who helped deliver a deer by C-section after the mother deer was hit by a car.