Pigs can fly: B.C. farmers airmailing new pets to bereaved Navan couple

Matt Nooyen and Lianne Guilbeault are getting an early Christmas present, thanks to a couple of B.C. hobby farmers and a generous airline — a pair of newborn piglets to replace their beloved pets that were killed by a hunter.

Hobby farmers touched by story of couple whose beloved pet pigs were shot by hunter

Picksie and Kelowna, born on Halloween, will fly for free on an Air Canada flight from Kelowna, B.C., to their new home in Ottawa later this month. (supplied)

Christmas will arrive early — on or about Dec. 18, to be exact — for a Navan couple whose beloved pet pot-bellied pigs were shot dead by a confused hunter in Ottawa's rural east end last month.

Matt Nooyen and Lianne Guilbeault were devastated after an acquaintance apparently mistook the animals for wild boars and killed Pickles and Rosie just metres from the couple's Navan home.

Now a couple from British Columbia, hearing word of the tragedy, has reached out to Nooyen and Guilbeault with an offer to replace the pets with newly born piglets.

"I felt so bad for them." said Jeanne Kaminski from her West Kelowna hobby farm. "I was actually in tears when I read the story."
'To have it come from that far away is really touching,' said Matt Nooyen, left. He and Lianne Guilbeault, right, expect to get their new piglets around Dec. 18. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Jeanne and her husband Torsten Kaminski started Lakeview Acres Farm about a year ago, where they raise miniature pot-bellied pigs, a breed that rarely grows larger than about 25 kilograms.

"They can be as smart as dogs or smarter. They can be litter trained.They're just awesome pets," Jeanne said. "What an awesome thing if we could connect and get them two babies."

From 4,100 kilometres away, the Kaminskis reached out to the bereaved couple with an offer to send a pair of piglets as a Christmas gift.

"We were truly touched," said Guilbeault, who said the couple has received letters of condolence from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

"What surprised us most was the overwhelming response from strangers and people we'd never met," Nooyen said.

For the piglets, born on Halloween, the couple has chosen the names Picksie — a commemorative compound of Pickles and Rosie — for the female, and Kelowna for Picksie's brother.

Air Canada swoops in to help

But how would the hobby farmers get their piglets from the B.C. Interior to a point just minutes from the Ontario-Quebec border?

CBC News contacted Air Canada with questions about the rules and logistics of placing pet pigs on a commercial aircraft, but when the airline's manager of cargo customer relations, Sebastian Cosgrove, learned the backstory he quickly offered to have the airline fly the pigs to Ottawa, free of charge.

Later this month the now three-kilogram piglets will fly together in a small travel kennel designed to carry dogs.

Jeanne Kaminski said the baby pigs will travel with a few favourite toys, a blanket, and of course food and water.

Matt Nooyen said the kindness of the gesture has helped ease some of the sadness they felt after their pigs were killed.

"To find faith in humanity after something like this — you hear that expression a lot, but in this case it actually is true."
'They're just awesome pets!' said Jeanne Kaminski, left, in a Skype call with CBC News. (Stu Mills/CBC)