Pet pot-bellied pig only slightly scorched after Wetaskiwin mayor saves his bacon

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When Angela Pauls screamed for someone to rescue « her baby » from her burning home in December, firefighters had no idea she was referring to a pet pot-bellied pig.

« They asked if there was anyone still inside. I presume they were asking about people but I was like, ‘Oh, my baby is in there,’ so the firefighter went to the back and helped pull him out. »

The saviour of the swine, named Mr. Pua, was none other than Tyler Gandam, Wetaskiwin’s mayor who also volunteers as a firefighter.

Turns out, it was a tricky procedure to save the bacon of the stubborn, arthritic, 75-pound-porker.

Angela Pauls and her beloved house pig, Mr. Pua. (Angela Pauls/Facebook)

« You try to pick up any pig, the first thing they do is scream and then squirm. Everything is thrashing about and freaking out so you risk dropping them and breaking their legs, » Pauls said from her new home in Pigeon Lake.  

It was about 7 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2018, when Paul, who lived on an acreage in the Millet area, was startled awake by the sound of her neighbour screaming outside.

Her mobile home was on fire, the front porch of the rental was engulfed in flames.

Dressed only in pajamas, Pauls and her husband managed to get their cats, dogs and another pet pig — this one named Matilda — out of the house safely.

But Mr. Pua, their older and much larger house pig, was trapped inside a back bedroom where he sleeps during the cold winter months.

Because of a miscommunication, Paul said, more than an hour passed before firefighters arrived. Panic had begun to set in.

Mr. Pua was a cherished pet. They had nursed him back to health as a piglet and his company — along with a brood of recently acquired farm animals including goats and miniature horses — had helped the couple deal with their new status as empty-nesters.

Pauls’ husband tried again to go back inside their burning home to save Mr. Pua, but it was too dangerous.

« When the fire came in off the deck, it came through our living room, through our kitchen, up into the roof over to our bedrooms, » Pauls said.

« The deck doors were completely on fire … You couldn’t see in front of you. »

Mr Pua has always liked to lounge inside during the winter months. The cold is hard on his arthritic bones. (Angela Pauls/Facebook)

Gandam said it was a strange night on the job.He’d saved cats from trees, a duck out of a sewer, but never a pig.

Gandam had followed one of the other firefighters inside the trailer but couldn’t see him anywhere. Then he heard a loud crash in the back hallway.

Gandam found his fellow first responder in the washroom, wrestling with a pig.

After a moment of disbelief, Gandam got to work saving Mr. Pua.

I wasn’t sure if Mr. Pua was a biter or not.– Tyler Gandam

« Between the two of us, we got it moving in the right direction outside the bathroom and then I used a big water bottle from a water cooler to corral it out of the trailer, » Gandam recalled. « It was pretty reluctant to go so. 

« A person, you can pull out and not have to worry about them biting you. I wasn’t sure if Mr. Pua was a biter or not. » 

Eventually, Gandam found Pauls outside and let her know Mr. Pua was safe. Gandam said her reaction reminded him of why he loves the job. 

« The tears started and she was so thankful, » he said. « I don’t know how heroic I would call it but I was just glad we were able to reunite Mr. Pua and Angela.

« I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we had saved a pig from a structure fire. »

The ordeal left Mr. Pua a little singed.

After the fire, Mr. Pua spent a few weeks recuperating in the « cat room » of a luxury pet resort. (Awesome Pawsome/Facebook)

« Of course, the roof is caving in, there is fire and flames and water and chemical going everywhere. He got two burns on his back, his ears and his feet. » 

Hamming it up

After a short stint at the veterinarian, Mr. Pua was offered free accommodations at Awesome Pawsome, a Spruce Grove pet hotel where he quickly became cause célèbre.

« They offered him free room and board while he was healing, so we could find a new home, » Pauls said.

« [They] put him up in the cat room. He had his own private bathroom, his own private sleeping quarters and he apparently became quite the sensation on their Facebook. »

Since then, Mr. Pua has moved into his new pen inside the heated garage of his new family home.

His current status, according to Pauls?

« Oh, he’s lounging. »

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