Owner defends 'beloved' pig Grunt after ban on walking in Wangaratta

MAN AND HIS PET: Grunt and Matthew Evans at home. They risk an $804 fine if the pig is walked in public. Pictures: JAMES WILTSHIRE
MAN AND HIS PET: Grunt and Matthew Evans at home. They risk an $804 fine if the pig is walked in public. Pictures: JAMES WILTSHIRE

The owner of Grunt the pig has questioned the reasons behind a ban on him walking his animal in the streets, as the wider Wangaratta community gets behind his cause.

Matthew Evans has received a flood of support since Friday, when he posted online a notice to comply from Wangaratta Council, banning him from walking his pet pig on a lead in public.

The reasons included complaints about him taking food from children and an incident where police and council staff spent hours trying to contain the animal

Mr Evans said he only found out about the specific complaints against Grunt when the council issued its statement on Facebook, which had been made in response to media inquiries.

"We were never personally told by any parties involved or the council themselves," he said. "We cannot recall an incident of any nature which would require a notice of endangerment to have been filed."

He has thanked the public for all their support, coming through the "Grunt The Pig" Facebook page as well as on posts from the council and The Border Mail.

But he said there were "inconsistencies and mistakes" in the council's statement.

"In regards to the 'extended period of time' where Grunt was not contained within his property - this was an freak accident where Grunt got free from his lead due to a scare by kangaroos in the Wangaratta Common on the August 29, 2018," Mr Evans said.

"He was missing at 11.30pm at night and was found within a matter of hours thanks to community support. He was contained within private property until he could be picked up in the morning and no damage was reported."

Mr Evans said he was the one who contacted police as a courtesy in case the pig caused a traffic hazard, but no officers were ever sent out to find him.

The story of Grunt has spread across the Border and as far as Melbourne since Friday, and while some people have backed the council's decision to not allow the pig in public, most comments have defended the animal.

The council is sticking by its decision, but Mr Evans said Grunt is "a beloved part of the Wangaratta community" and was hoped the parties could find a solution together.