Owner's Horror After School Sends Pet Micro-Pig To Slaughter

A woman who lent her pet micro-pig to a school to socialise with other animals was horrified to find out he had been sent to an abattoir.

Ria Dell, 21, thought her pet Marmite needed companionship so she sent him to be cared for at a primary school which already owned a pig pen.

But two months later the school sent the pig to a slaughterhouse because they said it was aggressive and tried to bite a child.

Now, Ms Dell and West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne are locked in a bitter dispute over who owned the micro-pig.

Marmite was given to the 21-year-old, from Pevensey, as a birthday present last July and she raised him as a pet.

But after growing concerned that he was becoming lonely, she placed Marmite in, what she believed to be, a 'boarding agreement' with the school.

Ms Dell says she visited Marmite three times a week until his sudden disappearance but only discovered he had been sent to slaughter after a protracted series of conversations with the school.

She said: "He was a pet, he wasn't livestock. Imagine what it would be like to have that happen to your dog.

"He would come when you called his name, he would sit in my lap for cuddles and he would give kisses. When I found out I was devastated. I couldn't believe it and I was just screaming."

Vegetarian Miss Dell said: "I have loved pigs since I was a child and they were always my favourite animal.

"My parents bought me Marmite as a present for my 21st birthday and I was ecstatic. I treated him very much like a pet rather than livestock and he lived in the house with us as a member of the family.

"He was so soft and domesticated that he would sit on my lap in front of the TV, and let me stroke him. He would even give me kisses and cuddles. When you called his name, he would recognise it and come running like a dog.

"Unfortunately, it became clear he was a little lonely and I thought he would benefit from socialising with other pigs.

"I contacted West Rise school because I knew they had other animals and they said they would be delighted to take him.

"They had a female pig they wanted to mate and they said Marmite would make the perfect stud."

The school said it removed the pig upon the recommendation of a vet and attempted to find suitable housing for him on another site.

The school said Marmite was too aggressive and claimed a vet recommended the animal be removed.

Both parties claim they have documentation proving legal ownership of the pig, which is now being disputed.

Headteacher Mike Fairclough said: "After a few weeks the new pig became extremely aggressive and attacked our two other pigs. It also bit the site manager and tried to bite a child.

"We contacted our vet and were advised to remove the pig from our site for the health and safety of the children and the other animals.

"The previous owners were contacted by the school to notify them of this development, but at no point did they offer to have it back or to help rehouse it.

"Our farm manager approached as many local farms as possible to rehouse the pig, but nobody wanted it because it was a boar."