When Kourtney Wallace of Lowell rescued a four-week-old Yucatán pig from a medical research facility seven years ago, she did not know just how much she would grow to love her pet.
The black floppy eared pig, named Ellie for her resemblance to an elephant, was originally purchased by the lab to help with research for children who are burn victims. Her start in the medical world adds to the uniqueness of her ears. Both are scalloped from docking, and one has a permanent hole where her USDA tag used to be. Wallace said she’s quirky and loving and remarkably fast for a pig.
Today, Ellie is missing.
Wallace, a registered veterinary technician, said Ellie managed to escape her enclosure at the Hebron farm where she lives some time Monday morning when the other pigs on the farm had their visits with the farrier. Wallace said the pigs in general can be pretty noisy with cries and barks during the process of having their hoofs trimmed and it could have spooked Ellie, who was in her outdoor enclosure at the time. Ellie was not scheduled to see the farrier.
Wallace said with everything going on, no one noticed Ellie had escaped until about 5 p.m. She said she later learned there was a sighting of Ellie heading south on U.S. 231 from Hebron toward Demotte at about 10 a.m. Monday. There has been no word since.
“I did not sleep last night,” Wallace said. She was booked on a flight to Montana Tuesday for a trip to volunteer for three days spaying and neutering pets on a Native American reservation. She had to cancel the trip to search for Ellie.
“It’s tough,” she said.
Veterinarian Jenice Bell shared the post in an effort to help Wallace. She said Ellie is a good pig and she is hopeful someone will spot her and reach out.
“I’m sure she’s scared,” she said.
Wallace and her family and friends have been searching since Monday. Her brother was out Monday night using heat vision goggles to see if she could be spotted. All he found were deer, she said.
The area where Ellie went missing may make her difficult to find. It is not uncommon on occasion for pigs to get loose from one of the multiple neighboring farms near U.S. 231 and Indiana 2.
Ellie is a friendly pig and worked for years at The Children’s Farm at the Center in Palos Park where children would interact with her and pet her. Wallace said she may be scared and hungry, and she worries someone may mistake her for a nuisance. One of Ellie’s favorite treats is pumpkin, and holiday decorations may be appealing.
Wallace said she worries about the condition Ellie might come home in if she is found. A report of an animal related power outage in Demotte gave her both a glimmer of hope and fear Ellie may have been seen since Monday morning but could be injured. It turned out the power outage was caused by a squirrel getting into a substation, according to NIPSCO spokesperson.
For Wallace, it was a moment of relief, followed by more worry.
Still, she said, this is a good time of year for the pig to go on the lam. Beans and corn are being harvested so there is plenty of food for her to forage. Wallace said she is hopeful Ellie is able to stay safe until she is found. Ellie is fast and smart and may be able to find her way home, but she has never left the property along before.
Her “sister” Nora, a 6-year-old rescue pig she shares her pen with, is now alone and misses her pal. The two would spend summer days in their outdoor enclosure, rooting around in the dirt and digging holes to lie in to cool off. Now Wallace said she is unsure what Ellie could be doing and where.
Ellie is a tall and slender pig, weighing in at about 150 pounds. She is black and her elephant ears stand out. Wallace is asking anyone who has seen the pig, who is a pet, not livestock, to reach out. If Ellie is scared or cold, she may burrow underneath something, like a deck, straw or other area. She may return to the same spot she has previously burrowed in if it was someplace safe and warm.
Wallace has been asking neighbors to check their properties and urging anyone who may have spotted her at anytime Monday, Tuesday or moving forward, to text her. Ellie may run if approached. She is highly food motivated, loving all fruits and vegetables and treats like marshmallows.
If anyone spots Ellie and is able to corral her, Wallace said will come and retrieve her pet. She will be spending the next three days she was scheduled to be in Montana searching for her beloved pet.
Ellie was last seen running south on U.S. 231 on the east side of the highway, heading toward Demotte. Wallace is asking anyone who has seen her to report the sightings via text to 219-776-3011.
“She has to be scared. I want to bring her home,” Wallace said.