Police in Northern California left a 400-pound runaway pig named Princess in the care of a neighbor last month as authorities searched for her rightful owner — but when they returned to retrieve the pet, they discovered a slaughter in progress, officers said.
“Obviously that was a bit of a shock to everyone involved,” said Lt. Todd Dockweiler of the Arcata Police Department, SFGATE reports. “Given the stage of the butchering process he was in, he must have slaughtered the pig very shortly after the officer left.”
Police said it’s a crime to slaughter someone else’s pig, according to SFGATE. The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office told McClatchy by email on Wednesday night that the case has been submitted to prosecutors for review.
“It’s just not clear what the thought process was,” Dockweiler said, per SFGATE. “He obviously knew the pig didn’t belong to him and he didn’t have the right to slaughter it.”
The incident unfolded on March 23 in Humboldt County near Arcata, according to Humboldt Paws Cause, a Facebook page that posts about lost and found pets in area.
“Found a massive pig in our yard this morning up Fickle Hill,” the Humboldt Paws Cause post said, along with a picture of the large black-and-white pig on a grassy lawn.
That post went up around 9 a.m., Lost Coast Outpost reports. Updates on the post revealed that the pig was taken into police custodyand that its owner was subsequently found.
Police said officers made a deal with a man in the area who agreed to watch the pig (which didn’t have any tags or other identifiers) as they sought its owner, according to the Outpost.
“We were totally shocked and surprised to learn that the pig had been slaughtered,” Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn said, according to the Outpost. “There was no reason to believe that that individual was going to do that.”
Princess’ family was shocked, too.
“I think that the hardest part of this is knowing that there’s somebody out there that’s this kind of a savage,” said Carrie Hogan, the 1-year-old pig’s owner, the Outpost reports.
Hogan spoke lovingly of the “very sweet” pig, which the family raised and bottle-fed since she was just a piglet, the Outpost reports.
Hogan’s mother was housing the pig when it escaped, and she confronted the man slaughtering the pig when she found out what had happened, the Outpost reports. Hogan said the man told her mom in response that “you have no right to be on this property.”
“It’s just a really bizarre case,” said Dockweiler, who suggested theft of livestock was a possible charge, SFGATE reports.
Dockweiler also said the call wasn’t that unusual.
“We have a lot of loose livestock calls,” Dockweiler said, per SFGATE. “It is very common to have loose cows, loose horses, loose goats. (In this part of Arcata) it’s still a neighborhood environment, but a lot of folks have a few acres.”
Facebook commenters reacted angrily once Humboldt Paws Cause provided an update about what had happened to Princess.
“This makes me literally sick,” one wrote. “I hope the guy that butchered this poor pet gets held accountable.”
Another suggested police are at fault, too.
“The officer who placed the pig into that man’s so called care and the man who killed the pig, should both be punished,” the commenter wrote.