This Little Piggy Helps Train Responders
The latest recruit to join Avon's Fire and Rescue service is a 14-stone pig named Dominic - and he's there to show fire fighters how to handle escaped animals.
Soon, almost every firefighter in Avon will have had escapology lessons with the 200lb porker.
Dominic is a Kunekune pig who was rescued almost a year ago after his elderly owner died.
He was taken to the HorseWorld rescue centre in Bristol, where he became known for his friendly but cheeky nature, and after several escape attempts, his carers realised he would be the perfect candidate to teach firefighters how to handle escaped animals without startling or harming them.
Fire officers are regularly trained at the centre by expert staff, but over the past six months, the trainers have introduced a practical element into the training - herding Dominic safely around the farm.
The cheeky pig makes sure the task is not as easy as it sounds and, after a day of chasing him around a muddy sty, the crews are fully equipped to deal with runaway farm animals.
Animal safety lecturer Dawn Watkins, who runs the course, said: "A lot of the fire fighters have never had any contact with animals before, and have no idea how to handle them, or read their body language.
"They told us that rescuing stuck or trapped animals, or catching escaped animals who have made their way onto roads, is a major part of their job, and the animal training is a big help for them.
"The course with Dominic lasts a day, and they start in the classroom, before progressing out to the stables to deal with Dominic face-to-face.
"They usually start the day not too keen on the pig but, by the end of the training, he's everyone's best friend. It's impossible not to love him."
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