After a pot-bellied big was abandoned in the nearby town of Palisades Park and spent three days in a crate in the rain, an animal rescuer named Elaine Samman from Animal Life Savers in North Bergen has found a home for him at the Secaucus Animal Shelter. Now, the porky pet may even become a mascot for that town, which used to be known for its numerous pig farms.
In fact, Secaucus officials have named the pig Henry Krajewski after a famous Secaucus presidential candidate and pig farmer. Originally, they named the pig Henrietta, but someone in authority eventually determined that “she” was a “he.”
When pigs fly
The story began two weeks ago, after a resident of Palisades Park called Samman and said someone had dropped off a pig by the side of his house. He said he couldn’t find a group or organization to take him.
At first Samman said she thought the gentleman told her that he had a “big” problem, but she soon found out he had a “pig problem.”
Samman operates her rescue out of the PetSmart in North Bergen and primarily saves cats and dogs. She has been in the animal rescue business for close to 20 years.
“It was the first time we had a pig to rescue,” said Samman.
She picked up the pig, who is mostly black and about the size of a medium-sized dog, and took it to her home and gave him a bath. Henry was friendly enough to let her cats sit on top of him.
Through friends, Samman connected with Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who was enthusiastic about taking the pot-bellied pig in at the town’s shelter.
Where pigs once roamed
On Mar. 2, just one day after National Pig Day, Henry arrived in a town where pigs once outnumbered residents 16 to 1. In the early part of the 20th century, Secaucus had 250,000 pigs on 55 farms.
Gonnelli named the pig Henry Krajewski after a now-deceased Secaucus resident who ran for president on a platform of “A pig in every pot” and whose family operated and owned a five-acre 4,000-pig farm on Penhorn Creek. Henry ran for United States President in 1952 and also in 1956 for the Poor Man’s Party and the American Third Party, respectively. He owned a saloon called the Tammany Hall Tavern on Secaucus Road in the 1930s.
By the late-1950s the local pig population was pretty much wiped out from a bacterial disease and from opposition by local municipalities because of the smell. Trenton officials were also concerned about offending future travelers along the NJ Turnpike, which was under construction.
“Wee, wee, wee, all the way home.” – Henry Krajewski
To pay tribute to the town’s history, Henry will remain in the local animal shelter and will officially serve as the town mascot.
The shelter set up a cozy hay-filled space for him. He was out grazing in the 60 degree weather last week and stays healthy on a regular supply of fresh lettuce and vegetables.
“[He] gets along with dogs and cats,” said Samman. “Most pot-bellied pigs are house pets but…I think it is against the law [to have them] in many towns.”
While Secaucus does have a town ordinance against keeping livestock, the Board of Health classified him as a pet and gave the town approval to keep the pig, according to Gonnelli.
“They are basically like a dog,” said Samman.
Pot-bellied pigs are smaller than American or European farm pigs, but adults can grow to the size of a large dog. According to the Humane Society, pigs are one of the smartest animals on earth, with greater intelligence than a 3-year-old child.
The ASPCA classifies the pot-bellied pig as an exotic animal and cautions individuals against taking them in as pets. Although cute as piglets, pot-bellied pigs are often abandoned when they become too large and burdensome to maintain.
A big squeal
“[He’s] playing with the dogs. [He’s] out in the yard,” said Gonnelli last week.
He said an animal trainer already began working with Henry days after his arrival and taught him to walk on a leash. The trainer will continue to conduct obedience training with Henry and the dogs at the shelter.
As far as the cost to maintain Henry, Gonnelli said that “no town money will go toward the pig.” He intends to pay for Henry’s food out of his own pocket.
He will appear in parades, festivals, and visit the schools. His first appearance is scheduled for the town’s Easter Egg Hunt.
“[He’s] not on the payroll,” said Gonnelli.
However, he said the pig had planned to run against Thomas Troyer in the local school board election – but he missed the deadline to file his “pig-tition.”
“Appy-hay,” said Henry in pig latin when asked how he felt about being adopted by the town of Secaucus.
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