Josh Shaffer

Shaffer: Pigs run wild in Ahoskie, spark shooting spree

In this age of discord, in this era of ceaseless argument, we close our eyes to the troubles that vex everyday people – going willfully blind toward those we might aid.

With that sad truth in mind, I direct your goodwill to Linda Nash in Ahoskie, the Hertford County town of 5,000, who called to report that she and her neighbors are contending alone with a plague of runaway pigs.

“Three big hogs,” she told me. “And eight little piglets. We called everybody we could down here. The farmer won’t do anything. He came out here the other day and threw his hands up and said, ‘The “H” with it.’ ”

We get a lot of pleas for help here at The Old Reliable, but this one, coming from 120 miles to the east, struck me as a last-hope cry of the afflicted.

Nash, 57, went on to explain that the pigs hide themselves in the woods off Liverman Mill Road at night and emerge in the day to root through trash cans, tear up flower beds and pull clothes off the line. After a few days, neighbors took to hunting them with thoughts of fresh pork.

“You got people out here shooting their guns at the pigs,” Nash told me. “My thing is, the bullets could ricochet. The houses are close together out here, and I also got a pet cat that goes in the woods.”

She’s called the sheriff’s department.

She’s called the SPCA.

Nobody will claim jurisdiction over the escaped swine.

She couldn’t recall the farmer’s name, but to hear the neighborhood tell it, he has abandoned his wayward swine.

“If my dog got out and was tearing up yards,” Nash said, “I’d be responsible.”

I am certainly no expert in agriculture law, but the latest statutes I can find require livestock owners to provide adequate fencing and, when negligent, compensate for damage caused by beasts that stray.

But those same statutes also give landowners the right to impound stray animals and charge owners who want them back. So who knows who is responsible for rounding up the swine of Liverman Mill?

I called Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan and have not heard back. Doubtless he is busy.

Still, where are our priorities if we can’t keep pigs off the streets? How low have we sunk as a society if we are not stirred by news of hogs on the loose? Will we pen up these cloven-hoofed invaders or join them in the mud?