CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Carter County residents and officials were on the hunt Monday, searching for the owner of a nuisance pig that locals say has been preying on plants in the area.
Residents in the area said the pig’s visits have been nearly a daily occurrence on the road, and after multiple calls to the sheriff’s office, they weren’t convinced it would ever be dealt with. On Sunday, however, the sheriff’s office posted pictures of the animal in hopes that a citizen could identify her — and her owner.
“Our deputies are looking for the owner of this pig,” the post reads. “It has been found wandering on Judge Ben Allen Road, and we have not been able to locate an owner and return it home safely.”
The pig was spotted sleeping at a home in the 300 block of Judge Ben Allen Road on Monday before she got up and began eating vegetation on the property. Neighbors of the home said they didn’t believe she lived there.
While days spent roaming free with unlimited food may sound like hog heaven, Carter County animal officials said her days as a free-range pig might be numbered. Damage to nearby landscaping means she could be classified as a nuisance animal, giving Animal Control staff a reason to relocate her to a new home.
“Once these animals are on somebody else’s property, sure, they are a nuisance,” Shannon Posada, director of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter said. “And they can do a lot of property damage. Until an owner is found, the simplest thing to do is contain the animal.”
In a pig’s case, Posada said that isn’t always possible.
“I understand, they can do a lot of damage in a short period of time,” Posada said. “We would think that someone would be looking for this pig and notice that it’s on the run.”
“Hopefully, with the Facebook post and social media, the owner can be found very soon,” Posada continued. Her staff handles the county’s animal calls, and if an owner isn’t located then they might have to step in.
Moving an estimated 300-pound pig is no easy feat, however. Posada said her staff have no equipment capable of capturing the creature, much less containing her. The shelter’s hope right now is that a generous farmer will help them pick her up in a trailer and potentially hold her in their own pen.
“We have no way to transport a 300-pound pig, we have nowhere to put a 300 pound pig… safely,” Posada said. “Unless we ask for a foster, and we’re happy to ask for a foster, but still we have no way of transportation for that large of an animal.
“Not to mention, they do have a tendency to be a little aggressive at times when you’re trying to get them to do something that they really don’t want to do.”
On top of that, there’s the issue of finding a new owner. Local farms are ideal, of course, but Posada said owners need to reach out to the shelter after a 7-day holding period while they try to locate the owner.
If the original owner of the pig is found before then, it still might not necessarily be a happy reunion. Neighbors that want recourse for their trampled and eaten property could sue, leaving the owner on the hook for the damages.
“That then becomes a civil suit between the property owner and the pig’s owner,” Posada said. “But you have to have an owner, somebody to stand up and say ‘That’s my pig’ before you can actually take suit against someone else for property damage.”