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Copley pet groomer reunites potbellied pig, owner

7/24/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

Kelly Starling, owner of Copley Circle Pet Grooming, stopped traffic July 18 to rescue a potbellied pig trotting along South Cleveland-Massillon Road, shown below. Starling is shown with the pig, who was later identified as Zoe, at right. Zoe reportedly escaped from a new pen and was reunited with her unidentified owner.
Photos courtesy of Kelly Starling

COPLEY — It’s not unusual for Kelly Starling, of Barberton, to pick up stray animals and try to return them to their owners. But last week’s rescue of a potbellied pig in Copley was a first for her.

Starling, the owner of Copley Circle Pet Grooming, was on her way to work at about 8:45 a.m. July 18 when she spotted the pig walking along South Cleveland-Massillon Road about a mile south of Copley Township Hall, she said.

“I knew I had to get her out of the road before she got hit or caused an accident,” Starling said.

After pulling into a nearby driveway, Starling said she stopped traffic both ways on the road while the porcine pet trotted from one side of the road to the other. Starling said she was surprised when the well-trained piggy turned around and approached her when she called it.

While about 10 cars stopped for the rescue, Starling and a couple of good Samaritans lifted the pig into the back of her sport utility vehicle, where it began “squealing like a pig,” according to Starling. Reluctant to try hunting down its owner while the pig was rooting around in the rear of her vehicle, Starling drove to the Township Hall for help. Fire Chief Michael Benson and other firefighters helped her reach by phone Summit County Animal Control, which agreed to do a pig pick-up, she said. Meanwhile, one of the men who helped load the pig into Starling’s vehicle located the pig’s owner, who called Township Hall to say he was on his way to get the rescued pet.

The story had a happy ending when the unidentified owner arrived to pick up Zoe, who reportedly had escaped from a new pen.

Although Starling has owned her grooming business for about 11 years, she said she’s never had the opportunity to groom a pig.

“If I could have picked her up and put her in my grooming shop, I would have given her a bath,” she said. Zoe’s owner was grateful for her safe return, offering a small reward to compensate Starling for cleaning her car, she said. Starling said she was just glad the owner showed up before Animal Control so he could take his pet home with less hassle.

For Starling, who said she sometimes volunteers at a Summit County animal shelter, the rescue was a novelty.

“I’ve rescued dogs and cats, but you never see a pig going down the road,” she said.

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