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Service pig accidentally killed by deputy

Posted February 9, 2011

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— For a Fuquay-Varina family, a typical pet simply wouldn't do. Their beloved Blue wasn't a cute and cuddly kitten or dog, he wasn't covered in fur and he didn't play fetch.

Blue was a pot-bellied pig, and the Sickles family misses him. 

"We all loved Blue, and Blue loved us," said Steven Sickles.

An off-duty Wake County sheriff's deputy shot and killed Blue with a bow and arrow last week because he thought the animal was a wild boar. Blue had gotten out of his pen and walked into the neighbor's yard.

"(The neighbor) said, 'I have two kids and I will not let them go down there because I know what a wild boar can do,'" Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Wednesday. 

Then, the neighbor called another neighbor, an off-duty sheriff's deputy.

"He did shoot the pig with a bow and arrow," Harrison said. "It is tragic. He hates it; no one hates it worse than he does."

The deputy, whose name was not released, did not violate any laws, Harrison said.

The pig was a service animal; he was specially trained to help Nicole Sickles deal with a medical condition that caused her to have seizures.

"He would immediately be next to me, or sense it and come running," said Nicole Sickles.

Blue also helped with the development of the Sickles' 5-year-old son, who has Down's syndrome.

"It was 11 years. It felt like a lifetime. So many emotions I can't describe," said Nicole Sickles.

Family forgives after pet's death Family forgives after pet's death

Pot-bellied pigs can be domesticated. They are smaller than boars and most often do not have teeth. Boars are known to be aggressive.

Although they miss their pet, the Sickles family said they forgive the deputy.

"He has been nothing but remorseful for his actions," Nicole Sickles said.

Attempts to contact the deputy were unsuccessful.

The Sickles family says the deputy offered to buy them a new pig, but they declined.

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  • mikeyj Feb 10, 2011

    MUgu get a life. Pick up a yellow pages and look up theraputic riding stables. Having a downs child we needed a "stout" animal when she was young. We opted for a dalmation. A pot bellied pig would stand up to a little roughness without dangers that a "pitbull or boxer" pose; this without fear of crushing or stepping on such as hampster or rabbit. An animal gives a downs child a sense of routine and responability. Good Day!

  • mommyof1boy Feb 10, 2011

    while I find this story very sad, I am sitting here wondering why it is getting all this attention? If the family didn't want to get the police officer in trouble, why bring it into the media? now we all know what this man did, and it will probably get him into some trouble due to the media exposure. lay the poor piggy to rest, and do what you say you were going to do. forgive the man, and move on.

  • ohmyteacher Feb 10, 2011

    For those who seem to think that "wild boars" live in Wake County, they need to check with the NC Wildlife Commission which states "Distribution
    The majority of wild boar in North Carolina are located in Graham, Cherokee and Swain counties, with the greatest population in Graham County. A smaller population is located in Clay and Macon counties. Two additional groups that have been established by private stockings are located in Rutherford, Cleveland and Burke counties, as well as Caldwell, Wilkes and Watauga counties." There may be some FERAL HOGS in Wake County, but not wild boars.

  • tyme2think Feb 10, 2011

    I seem to have lost my previous post. Having known this woman and her family for a very long time I can attest to the integrity of her heart. They are good people who often give of themselves for others. To spread gossip and take shots about these people in a time of pain while you hide in anonymity...mom2gkr... exposes poor character. The truth of the matter is that the deputy expressed deep regret for what happened and this woman forgave him without demanding restitution. There was no winner in this. This family chose to build their community rather than tear down an individual...Something more of us should do.

  • marmalade77 Feb 10, 2011

    Hmmm, I don't remember saying that we should call animal control for any and all wild animals. But if there is one in your yard that is terrifying your family, calling animal control is probably a smarter idea than calling the neighborhood off-duty policeman. I bet the officer in question would now agree with that advice, too.

  • carlostheass Feb 10, 2011

    "They are smaller than boars and most often do not have teeth."

    Really? I have had potbellied pigs for over fifteen years and have literally seen hundreds of them. They have teeth, they just can't do any real damage to a human because of the shape of their jaws. They are no match for a dog. They're typically very friendly and there's no mistaking them for a wild boar. As for those posting hateful things, the same people post the same venom on all the stories. Stop taking the bait, ignore them, and most of their fun will be lost.

  • Call It Like I See It Feb 10, 2011

    I think this is just sad... It's sad for the family, sad for the cop and extremely sad for the passing pig. They are extremely intelligent animals and very good pets.

    For the record... there are most definitely wild boars in NC, I live in Fayetteville and know plenty of people that hunt them locally... I don't agree with that at all but point is, there are everywhere.

  • cetanebrain Feb 10, 2011

    I think there is enough bad judgement to go around in this case but the issue which troubles me the most is that Sheriff Harrison feels comfortable defending the off duty officer never having spoken with him according to the N&O this morning. Furthter, as an avid sportsman let me say that any individual capable of drawing down on a 50lb animal with a bow and arrow and killing it is a capable hunter and is expected to know what he/she is shooting at(and why).. As a sportsman I am embarrased for the officer. I expect more from all hunters as well as the people I pay to protect and serve. I hope the family and the neighbor who started this all can reconcile and move on. Let me add that there is plenty of information on the web about pigs/boars in NC and elsewhere. If we are honest with ourselves we can offer few reasonable excuses if we don't recognize what we are shooting at in the field or elsewhere.

  • egoss Feb 10, 2011

    madcoat1...it is very ironic that you call other people sick.

  • nghtstarz2 Feb 10, 2011

    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/nreos/wild/wildlife/animals/mammals/wild_pigs.htm Before you judge the people involved, read the following from NCSU. My grandfather was a farmer in Harnett County, who raised hogs in large quanities as well as tobacco and corn. Even his own pigs and hogs, that were use to his presence and were fed by him daily, were dangerous. He always warned us that the sows could easily attack and maim or kill us. Feral pigs do attack other animals (and could easily kill a child) and consume them. They are present in NC counties and not just in the mountains. Additionally, not all boars have visible tusks. Just because you do not see them does not mean they are not in your local area.

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