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Thursday, March 14, 2013

NH Pet Save holds rally at Statehouse

While munching on Cheerios, potbelly swaying close to the ground, Sheldon the pig received more attention than all of his furry canine counterparts.

Milling about on a blue leash tethered to his owner, Megan Welsch, at the base of the steps of the Statehouse in Concord on Wednesday afternoon, Sheldon was a celebrity in his own right. While he hasn’t yet gone viral like Chris P. Bacon – the disabled pig without the use of his back legs, who’s made national headlines and appeared on TV shows throughout the country after he was donated a Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair by Nashua company Handicappedpets.com – people attending the press conference all stopped by to see the Vietnamese potbelly. ...

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While munching on Cheerios, potbelly swaying close to the ground, Sheldon the pig received more attention than all of his furry canine counterparts.

Milling about on a blue leash tethered to his owner, Megan Welsch, at the base of the steps of the Statehouse in Concord on Wednesday afternoon, Sheldon was a celebrity in his own right. While he hasn’t yet gone viral like Chris P. Bacon – the disabled pig without the use of his back legs, who’s made national headlines and appeared on TV shows throughout the country after he was donated a Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair by Nashua company Handicappedpets.com – people attending the press conference all stopped by to see the Vietnamese potbelly.

Sheldon was the only rescue pig at the New Hampshire Pet Save rally where Gov. Maggie Hassan declared March 18-22 as Homeless Pet Awareness Week across the state. N.H. Pet Save is a newly formed coalition of 12 full-service shelters in the state that have combined forces to spread the word about their work and to raise funds to keep their nonprofit organizations running.

Welsch and her boyfriend, Pat Coyne, live on a horse farm in Tyngsborough, Mass., and thought adopting a pig would be ideal for them since they have the facilities to take care of farm animals. But Sheldon, who’s 5 months old and weighs in at almost 20 pounds, isn’t your average roll-in-the-mud kind of pig. Though he does love running around in the horse arena as Welsch cheers him on yelling, “crazy pig, crazy pig!”

“He’s cleaner than our dog,” Coyne said.

“He loves to shower,” Welsch added. “We were reading up on them, and it said how much they hate baths, so right from the get-go we sprinkled Cheerios in the shower. He thinks the Cheerios are raining down from the shower head.”

Coyne said now they have to lock Sheldon up when they go to shower themselves because he’s looking for a treat. The pig lives in their house with them and is litter box trained.

N.H. Pet Save is the brainchild of Anita Burroughs who was on hand with her rescue dog, Cody. When she adopted him, Cody was skinny, terrified and a day away from being euthanized at a Tennessee shelter. His calm, observant demeanor today is quite a change from what she described. She was thrilled with the governor’s declaration, which coincides with the coalition’s first major two-day online fundraiser, scheduled for March 21-22. It will be held on the coalition’s website, http://nhpetsave.org/, and those who visit can choose which shelter they want to support.

“We just love what Gov. Hassan had to say. It was really, really touching. It was from her heart. She obviously cares deeply about animals, so that meant a lot,” Burroughs said. Hassan has her own shelter animal she adopted from the New Hampshire SPCA in Stratham, she said.

The unofficial spokes-dog of the Salem Animal Rescue League was on hand Wednesday. Miss Missy Mack, or 3M, is a three-legged Chihuahua that Patricia Mack, the shelter’s manager of development and media relations, adopted from a kill shelter in Los Angeles three years ago. 3M lost her leg but it doesn’t stop her from getting around, even at the ripe old age of 18. On Wednesday, she was dressed up in a cream and pink striped sweater with a matching pink collar, her tiny tongue hanging out the side of her mouth as she hobbled around the sidewalk with the speed and ease of an old pro.

“She has done more for bringing awareness for our shelter and awareness that older, nonperfect pets with bad teeth and a leg missing can be the best thing that ever happens to a family,” Mack said.

Mack and 3M visit children and other residents bringing the message of the organization out to the community. Not only does 3M have a velveteen outfit, she has a tux for special occasions, Mack said.

A little while after the rally, the House voted to kill a bill that aimed to further support animal rights in New Hampshire, according to the co-sponsor.

Rep. Mary Cooney, D-Plymouth, said the legislation would require the state’s two racetracks in Rockingham and Seabrook to telecast Greyhound dog races only from states that keep track of the animals’ injuries and have reporting systems in place.

“What happens in those states are the injuries are less because they’re paying attention to them and adoptions are up, so the conditions are better,” Cooney said. “We feel it’s New Hampshire policy, it’s New Hampshire values that treating the animals with a little more respect and better treatment than being in the cages 20 hours a day and not being able to turn around (is the right thing to do),” she said.

Erin Place can be reached at 594-6589 or eplace@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Place on Twitter (@Telegraph_ ErinP). Staff Writer Kevin Landrigan contributed to the story.