A family has been left angered and heartbroken after the pet pig they gave West Rise junior school to look after was sent to slaughter.
Ria Dell bought the pig, named Marmite, back in July 2013 but moved it to West Rise in January to allow it to enjoy the company of other pigs after it became lonely in their garden.
Two months down the line, the 21-year-old found out Marmite had been killed.
Both Ria and the school’s headteacher, Mike Fairclough, are adamant they legally own the pig and a dispute has broken out as to whether the school had rights to kill a healthy animal.
Ria said, “After we moved Marmite to West Rise we used to visit him all the time and drove past daily. When we noticed he wasn’t in his usual pen with the other pigs, we rang the school and they said he had been moved because the other pigs were attacking him.
“When I asked to see him, they then told me he had been put down because it was him who had become aggressive and tried to attack the other pigs.
“My Marmite was not an aggressive pig. He used to cuddle up on my lap and give me kisses. He ate out of the palm of my hand, he never tried to attack anyone. The pigs he was being kept with were twice his size and had tusks, there was no way he would have attacked them.”
Ria, who is a devout vegetarian, claims the school didn’t give her the option of trying to find another home for Marmite before sending him to the slaughter house.
Mr Fairclough said, “After a few weeks the new pig became extremely aggressive and attacked our two other pigs. It also bit the site manager and tried to bite a child.
“We contacted our vet and were advised to remove the pig from our site for the health and safety of the children and the other animals.
“The previous owners were contacted by the school to notify them of this development, but at no point did they offer to have it back or to help rehouse it. Our farm manager approached as many local farms as possible to rehouse the pig, but nobody wanted it because it was a boar.”
Ria still has the official registration document for Marmite, as well as paperwork documenting his move to West Rise. It is this form, and another for the movement of Marmite to Tottingworth Farm, that Mr Fairclough claims prove the school has ownership. A DEFRA spokesperson confirmed the General Licence for the Movement of Pigs form was for movement only, not ownership.
Ria said, “Either way, the school killed a perfectly healthy piglet, my Marmite. I’m 21, I can’t afford to sue them, but I just want some justice.”