A pair of porkers have been given a licence to trot after their owners got a special permit to take them on pig walkies – on a lead.
The Kunakuna pigs, called Mabel and Betsy, enjoy a stroll down a popular canal path as part of their trotting regime after their owners got special permission for the route.
Staff at the care centre for adults with additional needs, where the duo live, needed the special licence for the monthly outing due to foot and mouth restrictions which classes the walk as ‘transportation’.
Ben Wright, 30, managing director at the Waves Centre in Slaithwaite, West Yorks., said: “We get some double takes from about 50 metres away and people look and expect to see a dog.
“And they get a bit closer and the penny drops – and the dog’s reaction is honestly priceless.
“But it’s great because it introduces Waves to people and the pigs get some exercise too – which they do need.”
Ben added: “From us it is important for our members because they’ve been looked after and cared for all their lives – and it’s nice for them to do the caring themselves.”
The centre only has one harness for Betsy and Mabel so the pair have to take it in turns for a work out – and taking time out to munch on leaves in the process.
It is a special occasion when the two pigs go for the walk – because they only venture out on the expedition about 12 times a year.
Speaking about the idea, Ben added: “We got the pigs two years ago and it was starting to get popular and we settled on the kunakuna pigs because they are miniature compared to the real things.
“But now because they’ve grown so much – we’ve had to make a custom harness due to the fact dog ones are just not big enough.
“We try to take them out for a few monthly outings as a group – but they’ve just grown and outgrown their harnesses.
“We only take the pigs on a relatively short walk, but sometimes that can take up to two hours – it’s all good fun though.”
The duo have a special licence to walk along the towpath – because a walk still classes as ‘transportation’ in official guidelines.
Regulations introduced after the foot and mouth outbreak meant animals with a cloven hoof need a licence to be transported.
Ben added: “We had to submit a route that we will take the pigs on and the society which registers them checked that no other pigs covered that route.”
Betsy and Mabel are firm favourites at the Waves centre, which also boasts an array of animals, including chickens, a chinchilla, guinea pigs, a rabbit, tropical fish, a bearded dragon, a tortoise, a tarantula and lovebirds.
However the pig pair will never be food – but some of the chicken’s eggs are used for food and some are hatched to become chicks.
Ben says using the eggs help members “to understand about the way of life”.
Waves, which has collected 110 members since opening six years ago, has 31 members of staff running the facilities from its base near Huddersfield, West Yorks., all year round.