WOODLAND, Maine — The central Aroostook Guinea hog that made a break for freedom earlier this summer on the way to the slaughterhouse has been offered asylum by a Hancock County animal sanctuary.
“Peace Ridge Sanctuary is offering the escaped hog a lifelong reprieve and permanent home where [he] can enjoy [his] freedom within the safety of our sanctuary,” Dennis Morelli, sanctuary spokesman, said in a statement released Thursday morning. “This pig, like every animal, wants to live.”
Peace Ridge Sanctuary is located south of Bucksport in Penobscot and is home to 140 farm animals.
The northern Maine Guinea hog has been on the loose and eluding capture for weeks, ever since it escaped on the way from the O’Meara Family Farm in New Sweden on its way to slaughter at Scott’s Meat Shop in Woodland.
The pig was one of two that bolted when the farmer’s trailer door opened on Thomas Road, according to slaughterhouse owner Scott Greenier earlier this week. One of the hogs was immediately found and shot, he said.
Since then, the runaway pig has been sighted numerous times in an 8- to 10-mile radius from Caribou to Perham, and by all accounts is surviving quite well in the wild.
“There has been a public outpouring of support and interest to save [his] life,” Morelli said. “Our organization is ready to welcome this pig to our sanctuary once she is secured.”
Since opening in 2001, Peace Ridge Sanctuary has saved 900 animals, Morelli said.
“This is something we care very much about,” he said.
Staffed by volunteers — all of whom follow an animal-free, vegan diet — the sanctuary relies on donations for funding and is not offering to pay the $600-$700 estimated value of the escaped Guinea hog, according to Morelli.
“We don’t have the means to capture it or track it down,” he said. “We are advocating for the farmer to give [him] up if it is captured rather than it being sent to slaughter for food.”
Morelli said he is not all that surprised by the amount of public support for the runaway porker.
“You have an animal like this who people normally disregard because they see it as food,” he said. “Then you have this one who breaks the norm and does something out of the ordinary and all of a sudden people are rooting for it.”
Greenier understands people wanting to root for the pig, but on Thursday said some thought should be spared for the O’Mearas’ investment in the pig.
“People should think about the farmer,” Greenier said. “He raised this pig and fed it all winter.”
Calls to John O’Meara were not immediately returned on Thursday.
“I’d like to retrieve the pig myself,” Greenier said. “I’ve even taken several rides to go look for it.”
Saying he was somewhat taken aback by the amount of publicity the escaped hog has garnered, Greenier said it is a good thing that northern Maine residents know it’s out there.
“It’s kind of nice people know what’s going on,” he said. “People need to know how to approach [the hog].
Living so long on its own could turn the farm-raised pig wild and allow it to develop tusks, Greenier said, so it should be approached with caution.
“If someone sees it and does shoot it, they can call me and I can come over to help,” he said. “But people need to be careful [and] I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
Greenier said he respects the choices of vegans such as Morelli and the sanctuary volunteers, but said that is an individual choice.
“We eat meat every day,” Greenier said. “That organization is nice to have, but not having meat is not realistic in my world.”
But Morelli said that the “ham on the lam” deserves a second chance at life.
“This is one unique pig who had the courage to go for it,” he said. “People see it as a great story.”
Morelli is asking anyone who spots the pig to not attempt to shoot or harm it, rather to try to herd or entice it into an enclosure where arrangements can be made to get it to Peace Ridge by calling 207-326-9507.
“This is one tenacious little pig,” he said.