A Brown County woman is collecting donations on GoFundMe for her pet pig after it was seriously injured while wandering off to a nearby property.
“Meat,” a 9-month-old potbellied pig, had a gash in his abdomen, lost his left eye and had his tail cut or chewed off.
The owner of the nearby property told law enforcement he had turned his dogs on the pig.
It was a common occurrence for Meat to roam inside and outside, said his owner, Mandy Smith. Even before their hound, Tater, passed away, Meat had behaved like a dog. “He’s house broke. He minds. He goes to bed. He sits, he begs, he stays, he plays,” she said.
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On May 16, Smith came home to find Meat collapsed and covered in wounds after visiting the property — a place she said he had gone often.
“His ear was just hanging off, his whole left side of his abdomen was just ripped open, bleeding all over. … I didn’t think he was going to make it,” Smith said.
But last week, Meat was still hanging in there.
His veterinary bill was $500; it could double when he goes back to the vet in June, Smith said.
Animal control is the agency that responds to such calls in Brown County. Head officer Amanda Sisson and a sheriff’s deputy investigated this one.
Sisson said the landowner told her and Detective Paul Henderson that he turned his dogs on Meat “to try to get it to go home because it had been coming over several different times in the past.
The property owner did not return a message seeking comment.
As of late last week, no charges had been filed against anyone involved.
“It all comes down to keep your animals on your property, because the pig has been wandering around,” Sisson said. “If he had shot it and killed it, there wouldn’t be anything we could do.”
Sisson said calling the sheriff’s department or animal control directly is the best course of action if you find an animal that’s not yours on your property.
“Call the sheriff’s department. If animal control is available, we will go out, and if not, they will send a deputy out,” she said.
Meat had visited the property at least four times to play with the goats, according to text messages Smith has from the landowner.
“He didn’t think he was doing any harm,” Smith said. “I have messages to show where he said, ‘No worries.’”
At around noon May 16, Smith’s boyfriend, William “Billy” Howard, received a text message at work saying that Meat was visiting again and the landowner wanted him gone. “‘He’s been down here 11 times and it better not be a 12th or I am going to shoot him,’” Smith said, quoting the message.
Smith was scheduled to be off work at 2 p.m. When she arrived home, Meat wasn’t in his pen. She called for him.
“He started screaming, squealing and started walking up the side of the hill. He hadn’t even made it all the way up the side of the hill before he collapsed,” she said. “He heard me and he came up the hill. I lost it.”
The next day she visited six veterinary clinics trying to find a doctor who would treat a potbelly pig. Finally, she found Dr. John P. Clarke and Dr. Lauren Blair at Hillview Veterinary Clinic in Franklin.
They went to work cutting off the dead flesh around Meat’s wounds on his abdomen and flank.
Smith cleans his wounds, gives him two antibiotics and pain medicine twice a day. On June 3, Meat goes back to the clinic for a second round of flesh cutting where the veterinarians will consider taking off his ear, Smith said.
Animal control responds to about a half-dozen calls a year of people shooting animals that are acting aggressively on personal property, such as dogs attacking chickens, Sisson said.
Meat probably was rooting around in the goats’ pens, Smith said.
She said they have a pen for Meat, but since they are working on their driveway and doing landscaping, the ground gets soft and he sometimes burrows out.
Smith said Meat had began to trust the landowner since had been allowed to play with the goats.
“If he would have started spraying him with a hose or flipping a rock at him or telling him to go home, (he would have left),” she said.
Sisson said they were unable to find proof Meat had been shot. But even if Meat had been shot, Sisson said the landowner was not breaking the law as long as the incident happened on his property.
“The issue is her pig supposedly keeps going to the guy’s property. And when someone’s animal, a pig, dog, goes to someone’s property and is being destructive, acting aggressive, causing harm to something, the owner of the property has the right to protect his property,” Sisson said.
“Now if he saw it in the middle of the road or shot it in the road, we could go a different route there,” she said.
“If he shot it on someone else’s property, he can’t be doing that.”
A problem arises, too, when an animal is shot and a person claims they did it because the animal — whether a dog or a pig — was acting aggressively, Sisson said.
“A lot of times people will call after they shot it. How do you prove that they weren’t fearing for their life because it was growling at them? At that point, it’s hard to prove that,” Sisson said.
Smith said attorneys have contacted her about representing her in a case, but she doesn’t plan to take this further. She just hopes people learn what their rights and responsibilities are.
“My biggest thing is I want people to call animal control. If it is a domesticated animal that’s not going to eat or harm you or hurt you and your animals — he’s not a bear,” she said about her pig. “He was hanging with his hoofed buddies. He was going to go visit friends.
“As taxpayers, that’s why we have these agencies to help, animal control and such.”
Meat’s owner, Mandy Smith, set up a GoFundMe account to cover her pig’s medical costs: gofundme.com/justice-for-meat-the-pig
It had raised $650 of the $1,000 goal as of May 24.
Under Indiana law, a person who knowingly or intentionally kills a domestic animal without the consent of the owner commits a Level 6 felony. However, one of the defenses is if the person was protecting their property from “destruction or substantial damage.”
If an animal is on your property acting aggressively, destroying your property and/or threatening you or your animals, you will not face charges for shooting the animal, said Amanda Sisson, Brown County Sheriff’s Department head animal control officer.
“The owner of the property has the right to protect his property,” Sisson said.
However, she said people should notify authorities before taking any actions.
If someone shoots an animal that is not on their property, or is on a county road, Sisson said that person could face other charges, such as criminal recklessness, a Class B misdemeanor. The charge can be elevated to a Level 6 felony if a deadly weapon, such as a firearm, is used, according to state law.
SOURCES: Brown County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Board of Animal Health, Indiana Code