Piggy tales

There are few topics that set social media alight more than those involving cruelty to animals.

It is pointless arguing about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable on the Web, but if you are pictured mistreating a grasshopper, the heavens may fall on you.

Pigs are regular targets, and when a kind Dutch lady saved a pig from a slaughterhouse and took it home, it lived as a pet for two years. Moving to new accommodation there was no room for piggy, so the only option was to give it to a friend who seemed to like it.

To safeguard piggy's future the owner and owner-to-be signed an agreement in which piggy was guaranteed a dignified death that would not involve slaughterhouses.

But necessity overrode legal niceties, and within days of signing, the new owner had transformed piggy into an impressive pile of meat and patés. A judge ruled there was clear evidence of breach of contract and fined the culprit 500 euros.

Pigs seldom come out well if the choice is keeping them or eating them, and human greed usually overcomes animal welfare considerations.

When firemen from Pewsey (Wiltshire, UK) fire station put out a farm fire and saved two sows and 18 piglets, everyone was happy - temporarily.

Six months after the incident the farmer arrived at the fire station weighed down with bags of sausages.

No problem there, since, as they say, every pig has it's day, but when the appreciative firemen posted pictures of the ensuing barbecue on social media, the twitter storm caused them to remove all the evidence.

But there is humanity in unexpected quarters. Gerard Zwensloo, a Dutch butcher, never kills pigs without taking them for a last walk on the beach, although he warns against the cardinal sin of becoming too attached to them.

"If I give them a name I am lost" he says. Proof of this statement can be seen by visitors to his shop, where a pardoned victim in the making has the run of the place. His name is Willy and his appetite is famous.