The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Odd News

February 13, 2013

Internet goes hog wild over disabled piglet with a wheelchair

ORLANDO, Fla. — This little piggy has wheels, and he knows how to ham it up for the camera.

Chris P. Bacon, a month-old piglet from Clermont, Fla., born without use of his hind legs, has become an Internet sensation since his owner posted a video showing him learning to use a wheelchair made from a toy building set.

“He gave a lot of snorts and grunts, and people just ate it up,” said Bacon’s owner, Dr. Len Lucero of Eastside Veterinary Hospital in Clermont.

The video has been viewed almost 450,000 times by people from as far away as Brazil, England and Australia, and the pink potbellied pig has become a porcine celeb. Lucero and Bacon are scheduled to appear Thursday on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“It’s been a dream,” said Lucero, 41. “Almost not real.”

The disabled piglet came to Lucero in mid-January when a client dropped him off because she couldn’t take care of him. Lucero adopted him and brought him home to a farm the veterinarian owns in Sumterville, northwest of Clermont. He named the pig Chris P. Bacon after a character in a video game.

As a veterinarian, Lucero was familiar with the mobility devices used by disabled animals. One night, he fashioned a wheelchair for Bacon out of K’nex toys, attaching the contraption to the then-1-pound piglet using a veterinary version of the wrap used for sprains.

“He screamed, yelled,” Lucero said. “He didn’t like it at first, but he got used to it.”

The wheelchair worked, so Lucero shot a video of the pig testing it on the family’s living-room floor. Lucero posted a six-minute video on YouTube so that his out-of-state friends and family could see Bacon in action.

Within a few days, the video “spread like wildfire,” Lucero said. He attributes Bacon’s popularity to a combination of the handicap, the toy wheelchair and the adorable noises the piglet made while scooting around the carpet.

Eastside technician Cindy Drescher, who plays with Bacon most days on her lunch break and between appointments, has another theory about Bacon’s celebrity: “He’s the best-looking pig out there,” she said.

Since January, Lucero has posted two more Bacon videos, and another should go up by the end of the week, he said. Bacon also has a Facebook page with almost 14,000 “likes” and a Twitter account - (at)ChrisPBaconPig - with more than 1,000 followers.

“He’s going to be more famous than Arnold from ’Green Acres,’ ” Drescher said.

A clothing manufacturer is also making T-shirts that read “I Love Chris P. Bacon.” Lucero said any profits will be used for Bacon’s care.

Bacon now weighs 5 pounds. He has outgrown his original wheelchair and is getting too big for a second one Lucero built. But within the next three weeks, the pig should grow large enough to use a permanent device donated by Handicappedpets.com, a company that makes customized wheelchairs for special-needs animals.

“Chris P. Bacon is going to live a plush lifestyle,” Lucero said.

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