Orange County Animal Services captured the pig that had been on the loose in Efland.

Shortly before noon, the Orange County Animals Services was able to secure the large potbelly pig that had been loose and had become something of a local internet sensation. On Feb. 3, OCAS received a call from an Efland resident about the pig being loose and hanging out in their yard. Attempts were made by animal services to confine the pig and to contact anyone believed to be the possible owner, but none had been successful until today.

OCAS said it still does not know who is the owner of the animal.

“The pig is safe and at the shelter at this point and we're going to work towards the best outcome for the pig,” said Tenille Fox, Communication Specialist at OCAS. “Our veterinarian confirmed that it appears to be a large potbelly pig, and that it is owned or likely had been owned at some point.”

There were no reports of the pig being aggressive towards other animals or people. There were no reports of it behaving dangerously or causing harm, according to a statement released by OCAS. In any case, the agency urges the public to be cautious and not try to capture or confront the animal because “any stray or loose animal may become fearful and potentially dangerous if they feel threatened.”

The successful apprehension of the pig ends days of rumors, jokes, and in some cases, fears about the pig on the loose.

Social media can be a useful tool to find or locate something that has gotten lost, or escaped. Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor can become steady feeds of users posting about lost animals, often pets. No one bats an eye when sharing posts about a missing cat, dog, bird, or even an iguana or emu. 

After receiving the call about the at-large pig, OCAS posted on its Facebook page about the pig that was last seen in Efland. The photo with the post showed a large, very furry pig with long tusks on each side of his snout. It was in a wooded area.

To the average person unfamiliar with pigs, the animal looked wild and dangerous, which is exactly what Alesja Daehnrich fears when these situations arise. She and her husband, Alex, founded and operate the Blind Spot Animal Sanctuary in Rougemont where now more than 80 lost, abandoned, mistreated and injured pigs are being cared for. She said in this kind of instance there can be inaccurate information and people can misjudge the animal based on its appearance. That can be dangerous, mostly for the animal. 

“There's a lot of misinformation,” Daehnrich said. ‘It's a wild pig.’ It's not a wild pig. It's a potbelly. These are domestic animals, domesticated pet pigs. Some (people) are presenting him as a threat. It's a prey animal, not a predator.”

She said the size of this particular pig makes it unlikely that it was just dumped somewhere, and that it likely got out of a fenced-in area and wandered off.

But what about its appearance? A comment on Facebook questioned why the pig is so hairy. Another commenter said it’s a “wild boar.”

“Pigs grow thicker hair in the winter to keep warm,” Daehnrich added. “They’re able to grow tusks. That’s just what they do. His tusks have not been trimmed and appears to be an unaltered male pig that is currently fearing for his life. He has no care, no protection, no constant source for food or shelter. Pigs are prey animals. They're not predators.”

Orange County Animal Services said that, while it doesn’t know the circumstances for how this particular pig ended up on the loose, it said a majority of at-large potbelly pigs are a result of owners not understanding the amount of work and commitment involved with proper care of the animals.

Sanctuaries — like the Blind Spot — are a valuable resource for learning what is required and advised for raising pigs and other animals. The Blind Spot also holds training sessions for area animal service agencies to learn how to properly apprehend the animals in methods that are humane and attempt to lower the stress level of the animal.

“This is something we see quite a bit,” Daehnrich said. “Just because people are not educated on pig care. They don't know how to properly fence in an area. They don't know that pigs need to be spayed and neutered, they don't know sometimes the tusks need to be trimmed so they they don't grow into their faces.”

If you are the owner or have any information about this pig, please call 919-942-7387, option 1.

For more information about the Blind Spot Animal Sanctuary, go to www.blindspotanimals.com.