Pet pig's botched butchering leads to arrest
A squealing pet pig with a pickax in its back was running for its life Wednesday as a man with a rifle chased it through Kings Park.
Men putting in a new sunroom in the east Macon-Bibb County neighborhood were first alarmed by gunshots, then the sight and sounds of the wounded animal.
“It was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever witnessed before. It was a horrible thing that happened,” said Brian Walls, who was installing windows at a nearby house when a man with a .22 rifle shot the pig in the side.
After a second gunshot, Walls figured the pig was dead and tried to ignore what was happening until he heard the pig’s painful cries.
“We were in shock to see him out here with a gun shooting in the neighborhood,” said Tim Montgomery, who was working with Walls. “They didn’t know what they were doing because, you know, if you shoot a pig, you’re supposed to shoot it between the eyes or in the back of the head, point-blank, or however they do it humanely.”
Walls confronted 62-year-old Freddie Phelps Sr. and begged him to put the approximately 200-pound animal out of its misery.
A couple hours later, the workmen saw that people were attacking the animal with poles.
“They were beating the pig, hitting it in the face and it was squealing. They weren’t hitting it hard enough to kill it. They were mainly just torturing the thing, and the thing had to be in horrible pain,” Walls said.
The men called 911 and were referred to Macon-Bibb Animal Welfare, which called in Bibb County sheriff’s deputies.
Officers had been out to Kings Park Circle on Monday when someone reported a loose pig rooting around the subdivision.
A deputy took the pig back home, as was noted on the department’s Facebook page.
“A Bibb County deputy went above and beyond the call of duty this morning to bring home the bacon ... literally!”
Officers had no idea the owner was reportedly fattening up the animal for slaughter, as was evident by the “We love a happy ending!” social media post.
Macon-Bibb Animal Welfare Director Sonja Adams and Sgt. Cson Johnson found the wounded animal behind a house in the 3300 block of Kings Park Circle.
Phelps and Michelle Fuller said they were asked by the pig’s owner, Gertha Atis, to kill the pig, according to an incident report.
Atis was in Atlanta to buy a freezer.
She reportedly had adopted the pet off Craigslist weeks ago.
Trampled dog food and scraps of moldy bread were on her front stoop Wednesday, but no one answered a knock at the door.
Empty packages of vienna sausage and St. Louis style ribs littered her yard.
“It was a pet pig,” Johnson said. “This wasn’t a hog you slaughter.”
The animal was suffering so much that Adams and Johnson asked a deputy to shoot it. A shot between the eyes, followed by one behind the ear, ended the ordeal.
The carcass was taken for a necropsy, according to a sheriff’s release, but neighbors still were hoping to keep it for the meat.
Phelps, of Jeffersonville Road, was charged with aggravated animal cruelty and is being held in the Bibb County jail.
Animal welfare officers also removed a few dogs from the neighborhood in the course of their ongoing investigation, the workmen said.
“The most gross thing that is going to stick in my head is the pig with the pickax in its back,” Montgomery said. “People get hungry and they do crazy things, but I would have gladly gone to the store and bought them some bacon and ham if they’d left the pig alone.”
As the workers went back to the job Thursday, one of them said: “I almost didn’t eat my sausage biscuit today. Almost.”