A Michigan family is seeking justice after their pet miniature potbelly pig was shot and killed by a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer last week.
According to owners Tony Gervasi and Brandy Savelle, two-year-old “Caesar” went missing last Thursday shortly after being let outside on the family’s 28-acre property.
Attempting to find Caesar, the couple began following the 30-pound animal’s tracks before discovering a puddle of blood on a nearby trail.
“The ground was soft still so we were able to follow his hoof prints down our driveway onto our dirt road,” Gervasi wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. “To our shock and disgust, we found a puddle of blood and short drag mark several feet off of our property line.”
Assuming their pet had been hit by a vehicle, the family took to Facebook in an attempt to find answers.
The following day, a knock on the family’s front door produced a DNR officer with information on the missing pig.
“Actually, I am responsible for the missing pig…” the officer reportedly said. “He came out of the woods at me running at a trotting pace and I felt threatened so I shot and killed him”.
In a state of complete disbelief and anger, the family says the officer then began to change his story in an apparent attempt to appease them.
“The man then began to change his story to ‘I was following orders’ rather than the lie he first told about Caesar running out of the deep snow woods and charging him,” Gervasi wrote, noting Caesar’s inability to charge in deep snow due to his 15-inch height.
According to ABC 10, the DNR has since stated that although the pig did not charge, the officer acted in accordance with both his rights as a conservation officer and feral swine laws.
“The only thing that he said was that he was following orders; those are the instructions to shoot pigs,” Savelle told reporters. “When I asked him how he could shoot something so small he said that there is such a problem with wild pigs in our area so he was just doing his job.”
Before asking the officer to leave, the family pleaded for Caesar’s body in hopes to bury their beloved pet.
“I asked for his body and he told me that we could not have him and that he is going to be sent to the USDA for testing like a wild rabid animal!” Savelle said. “We cant even have the poor baby’s body to lay at rest on our property that he loved.”
“We need to fight to get his body back… Attorney costs will start piling up very soon and we need your help to make this difference,” the family wrote. “Every bit counts. Anything above the attorney costs will be put toward the effort of changing these cruel pointless laws and the retraining of the people put in charge of maintaining our precious outdoors.”
As shocking as the incident is, countless other innocent pets have been executed for similarly absurd reasons.
Just last month, for instance, a sheriff’s deputy in Oregon shot a family’s pony in the face after claiming it had been hit by a car. An autopsy by a local veterinarian revealed that the animal had been in perfect bodily condition just moments before the fatal shot.