“Pignapped” once again.
That’s one man’s take on the situation.
The meandering odyssey of the pigs “rescued” from an island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta only to be turned loose on an abandoned mountain golf course took another turn Tuesday evening when Calaveras County stepped in, taking the pigs from their original owner Roger Stevenson.
“The pigs are in jail in San Andreas,” Stevenson wrote on Facebook Tuesday night – the first confirmation of the law enforcement action.
“Stolen by animal control,” he later added.
The action came just four days after UC Davis delivered the pigs to Stevenson in Arnold. They are the progeny of a small swine herd that Stevenson let loose on a tiny island in the Delta four years ago in what he says was a deal with the landowner to clear his land while raising meat.
Animal rescue group Farm Sanctuary plucked the pigs off the island on June 13, saying they had been maltreated and suffered from diseases. Stevenson hotly contested that assertion, and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department sided with him in the question of who owned the pigs. UC Davis had been holding the pigs for observation, but it then delivered them to Stevenson.
When The Bee visited Stevenson’s Arnold property Monday, the pigs were jockeying for space and relief from the heat in a cramped 14-by-14 foot steel enclosure on the abandoned Meadowmont Golf Course behind his house. At the time, Stevenson said he envisioned the pigs roaming and foraging the entire 9-hole course.
The weeded course, owned by a Los Gatos group, runs along Highway 4.
“When staff arrived, they found pigs roaming loose very near Highway 4. The makeshift pen in which they had been held, and which was insufficient to hold them securely, appeared to be located on the old golf course,” wrote Sarah DeKay, deputy counsel for Calaveras County.
“In the interests of public safety and animal welfare, Animal Services staff secured the animals and brought them back to Animal Services,” the statement reads.
It’s unclear how long the county intends to hold the pigs, but the final line of the statement from Animal Services seems to suggest the question of ownership isn’t settled.
“My understanding is that the legal ownership of the animals is currently in dispute between private parties,” DeKay wrote.
Farm Sanctuary said it rescued the pigs “after we obtained clear legal title to them” from the Wong family, which owns the island. Efforts to reach the Wong family have been unsuccessful. Farm Sanctuary said the pigs needed medical care and they acted in the pigs’ interests. However, delta boaters who had come to enjoy visiting and feeding the pigs on what had become known as “Pig Island” objected to their removal.