Beer-loving pig left behind during Fort McMurray evacuation found safe
Meet Marshall, the pet pig who 'missed the bus' as the wildfire advanced
A "tough little" beer-loving pig abandoned during the Fort McMurray evacuations has been found safe thanks to the help of Twitter and Facebook.
Marshall, a black 4½-year-old pig, was left behind when his family fled the advancing wildfire last Tuesday.
Michelle Coutu told CBC News that there was no advance notice of the evacuation and the sight of the flames sent her family scrambling. While she was able to cram her daughter, her grandson and her three dogs into the back of her truck, there was no room for the pig.
"All I could do is let Marshall out of his pen and put some food down for him and pray for the best."
Her family reported the loose pig and posted about it online, urging others to keep an eye out for him.
That came in handy when the Alberta RCMP posted a Twitter photo of a constable feeding a pig watermelon on Monday evening. Many members of this Facebook group set up for the lost animals in Fort McMurray flagged the pig's picture to Coutu, who knew it was hers right away.
Officers canvasing Fort McMurray are finding all kinds of new<br>friends today. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YMMfire?src=hash">#YMMfire</a> <a href="https://t.co/xFliVf10QB">pic.twitter.com/xFliVf10QB</a>—@RCMPAlberta
"You can always pick out your kids. He has the white tip on his tail. In the picture, you could tell he was a little bit hesitant to get the watermelon … but definitely he's not going to turn down a treat," she said.
"I was overwhelmed, just ecstatic, when I seen his picture knowing that he was OK."
A spokesperson for the Alberta RCMP confirmed to CBC News that a pig was found in Fort McMurray, but wouldn't say where it was found.
'He missed the evacuation bus'
It wasn't Marshall's first experience with an evacuation from Fort McMurray. Coutou said the family evacuated from their home three years ago when a nearby river flooded. That time, three RCMP officers had to help load the pig into the back of a pickup.
"Unfortunately, this time he missed the evacuation bus."
She doesn't know where Marshall went after they left, but thinks he might have gone into the neighbour's garden or on a search for beer cans.
"If you open a beer, he loves his beer. You cannot put your beer down because you won't have a beer afterwards."
She was able to glean some insight from the constable who appeared in the Twitter photo with Marshall after he posted about it on Facebook.
"He said he thought it was just a hilarious picture … he said it actually provided them with a very good laugh and he had a good time and he said Marshall was quite grateful for the watermelon."
The search continues for other animals left behind in Fort McMurray. Hundreds have been rescued so far. Officials are asking those who abandoned their pets to fill out the emergency pet rescue request form.
Reunion to come
While the community sorts out re-entry plans for its residents, Coutou will be staying with family in Newfoundland. She said friends and animal custody will be looking after Marshall in the meantime. She will be getting in touch to see when she can be reunited.
Coutou said that might call for a celebration.
"I think he's got potential, especially since it's his second evacuation here. He's a tough little pig," she said.
"I'm so proud of him."