BILLINGS - Thursday morning started off like every other day for Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) Trooper Duane Young.
He put on his uniform and went to work, keeping Montanans safe. And while he's gotten used to the unexpected in his line of work, he never would have imagined what he would stumble upon that day.
“I was driving down the interstate, driving west on I-90 near mile marker 450. I saw a bunch of traffic just stopped, and at first I thought it was a crash," Young said on Saturday. "So I got over there as quick as I could. When I got out, I saw a lady chasing a pig around the interstate.”
That's right — a piglet on the interstate in Billings.
“The witnesses that were there said that the pig fell out of a truck while going down the interstate," Young said. "Clearly the pig wanted to get away from everything.”
According to Young, with the help of three others, he was able to get the piglet into his vehicle after about five minutes.
"We were trying to wrangle this thing. Thankfully traffic was stopped, so there wasn’t much of a hazard," Young said. "It took a little running around, but we finally corralled it.”
But it wasn't an easy task.
"He was scared and looked to be hurt," Young said. "He didn’t want to be around anybody at all."
Trooper Young said he has been with MHP for more than a year and a half but has never had a passenger like this in the backseat of his patrol car.
“After we got the pig in my backseat, I pulled into a median. I wasn’t sure where to take the pig,” Young said. “I let my dispatch know I was in custody of a pig. I started calling around, and thankfully I got (Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter) about 10-20 minutes before they closed. They said they would take him."
Young took the piglet to Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter (YVAS), located at 1735 Monad Road in Billings. And while shelter workers are used to unexpected guests, they weren't prepared for this one.
"We got the call, I think from Montana Highway Patrol, that they had found a pig of all sorts. A stray pig. And they didn’t have anywhere else to bring it," said Tiffany Smith, the development director at YVAS, on Saturday. “The Trooper showed up here and we helped him wrangle a little piglet out of his car. That was a first for all of us. But I always say, working at the shelter, there’s never a dull day. It’s always something. And that was definitely a first for me."
Smith explained shelter workers had to stock up on supplies for the pig.
“We got him set up in a kennel. We went to Shipton’s and got him some pig food, since that’s not normally something we keep in stock here," Smith said. "Got him set up with some blankets, some toys. He’s still a little freaked out, but he’s coming around a little bit.”
According to Smith, the young pig has some road rash from his jump, but otherwise seems perfectly fine.
"He has a little bit of road rash. But as far as we could tell, he looked good overall," Smith said. "He was pretty sassy."
The pig is currently on a 72-hour hold at the shelter in case his owner comes forward. But if no one claims him, he has a lot of willing takers.
“We posted him on Facebook just for fun that night, and we actually have received a ton of interest in him. A couple folks who are close to YVAS in fact. So they would be very loving, great homes," Smith said. "So we’re just going to treat him like any other stray animal that would come in here. We’ll hold him for 72 hours, and if his original owner doesn’t step forward, it looks like he has lots of options for a great home already lined up.”
While this guest was unexpected, Smith said the shelter has it under control, although its lack of staffing adds some pressure.
“We’re short-staffed. We’re feeling a little bit of that pressure there. So if anybody loves animals, you like being kept on your toes, you like adventure, or you have experience with pigs apparently," Smith said. "We’re hiring for numerous positions. Part-time, full-time. Dogs, cats, everything. And you can find all of that on our website, yvas.org."
And while the shelter searches for more employees, its current workers will happily care for any animal in need.
“Normally here at YVAS, we are only set up to house what we call companion animals. So dogs, cats, pocket pets. The only types of pigs we normally see are guinea pigs. So, a little bit different than a real pig,” Smith said. “When you’re working with animals, you never know what’s going to come in the door. So that’s kind of the fun of it.”
To learn more about employment opportunities with Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter, click here.
“Typically I don’t really let my guard down," Trooper Duane Young said. "But this was very comfortable, to actually let my guard down and be a little humorous about.”