This Little Piggy is a Fireman
Pee Wee, pictured above with owner Frank Ptacin, fills his days assisting the firefighters of the Tybee Island Fire Department in Georgia. (ZT Pet News Photo by Melissa Maikos)
This Little Piggy is a Fireman: Some piggies go to market, and some go to town. But one swine named Pee Wee runs all the way home to a local fire department. "The fact that no one had a pig, I thought, 'Let's try it out,' " Pee Wee's firefighting owner said.
TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. -- The Tybee Island Fire Department isn't unlike any other departments in the country -- The men who work in this coastal Georgia town put their lives on the line everyday to protect others. But they do have something that no other fire station has: Pee Wee, the most unlikely of mascots.
Seven-month-old Pee Wee doesn't look like your typical Dalmatian; in fact, he's not a dog at all. Pee Wee is a 12-pound Miniature Pot-Bellied pig -- an unorthodox mascot for any fire department, but at this one, his addition to the team works.
"I brought him in to show the guys and the guys liked him and said to keep bringing him to the fire house so they could play with him," said First Responder Frank Ptacin.
Pee Wee belongs to Ptacin. It was his idea to introduce the pig to his fellow firemen.
"The fact that no one had a pig, I thought, 'Let's try it out,' " Ptacin said. "They are one of the smartest animals, well behaved, easy to train."
Historically, Dalmatians and fire trucks have been paired since the 1800s, when the dogs would guide the horse-drawn engines. Pigs, however, are often harder to come by.
Yet, the idea of Pee Wee caught on and in short order he became an unofficial member of the Tybee Island Fire Department.
"Pee Wee is fun to work with," said volunteer firefighter Jonathan Salter. "He's been here for a short time, but he's made great strides."
Pee Wee doesn't fight fires, but every now and then, he'll take a ride on the fire truck -- sitting shotgun, of course. The small pig remains poised to provide moral support, which when in the heat of the battle, is sometimes all that a fire-fighting squad needs.
"Pee Wee is a typical firefighter," Ptacin said. "He can get moody, he's always in a playful mood. He'll get in trouble every now and then. He's a good fire fighter and good to bring around the firehouse."
A typical day for Pee Wee involves following the crew on the job, running with reckless abandon around the fire station and entertaining the firefighters. He's also become a tourist attraction in this coastal Georgia town.
"At first, he was apprehensive, but now he's tame to people," Ptacin explained.
Just ask Jennifer Diegnan. She's visiting from New Jersey and stopped by the fire station to see what the fuss was all about.
"I was surprised when the people in town told me they had a pet pig as a mascot," Diegnan said.
Many kids say they dream of fighting fires and saving lives, but not many factor working with a pig into the equation. It's clear, though, that Pee Wee fits the mold of a firefighter mascot -- and the guys wouldn't trade him for anything.
"We are happier with him than a dog. He's easier to train, easier to cleanup after, and cheaper to feed," Ptacin said.
While Dalmatians still are found protecting firetrucks in the U.S., Canada and England, Peewee continues to live the good life in Tybee Island as possibly one of the world's only "firepig".
He can't express in words how grateful he is, but his fellow firefighters know, and when Pee Wee is happy, everyone is happy.
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