Popular Lochside Trail pig faces possible euthanasia after complaint lodged to SPCA

Popular Lochside Trail pig faces possible euthanasia after complaint lodged to SPCA
A Saanichton farmer says he has a spray to manage the pigs chronic skin disease, but there is no cure.

A farmer in Saanichton has three days to choose between getting a veterinarian to check in on his elderly pig, or having it euthanatized after a complaint was made to the BC SPCA.

Frans Winkel and his wife, Marjolyn, have taken care of their 18-year-old sow since she was a piglet. She has now grown to be a popular attraction amongst cyclists travelling alongside the Lochside Trail and even from around the world.

“Australia, New Zealand, they come out here,” said Winkel. “There’s a couple in the states that comes here every year and the first thing they want to see is the pig.”

The soon-to-be retiring farmer says he has been taking extra care of the pig due to a chronic skin disease it has. Every day, he applies an aluminum powder that acts as a bandage for the multiple cuts and rashes on its body.

The disease isn’t curable, but it is treatable. The spray— which was recommended by his vet—prevents itching and flies from attacking the pig’s open wounds.

“I put it every morning on her,” said Winkel.

Recently, a member of the public lodged a complaint to the BC SPCA about the pig. After being paid a visit by an SPCA officer on Wednesday, Winkel was given five days to choose between having his pig checked out by a veterinarian for a fee, or having it euthanized. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges made against him, according to the offence ticket.

Winkel has been investigated in the past by the SPCA for a boar and sow. In both cases, his veterinarian checked in on the animals and says a letter was written to the organization saying that the animals were being treated fairly.

But after this complaint, Winkel says he can’t continue to handle further issues.

“I can’t afford to pay $100 for every complaint from people that come from out of the town that don’t know anything about animals, but think all of the sudden they’re experts,” he said.

In a statement to CHEK News, the BC SPCA said that it couldn’t comment on this specific case, but added that it’s still an open investigation.

“I am unable to go into details about this investigation. However, I can say if a complaint is not valid then we would close the file,” said Eileen Drever, BC SPCA senior officer protection and stakeholders relations.

The farmer says he’s not upset at the organization for doing its job, adding that he appreciates the work they do to protect animals from cruelty. He’s pleading with the SPCA to give him more time to decide what to do.

“They have [heard] themselves that this animal particularly now is in good hands, never been treated wrong,” said Winkel.

His previous sow eventually passed away peacefully on the farm months after it was investigated, which is ultimately what Winkel wants for his current pet pig.

On average, pigs live between 15 to 20 years old, and Winkel believes his senior pig can live a few more months. But now the farmer has only until July 9 to make a decision.

“The animal, just like the people, have the right to die on their own,” said Winkel.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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