'Bacon Response Team': Police Officer's Pigs Bring Cheer to N.C. Children Who Have Lost a Sibling
“How many times do you see a pig on a leash? That's an instant ice breaker," says veteran officer Chad Webster with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
By Michelle Boudin, People
April 12, 2019
It’s the last place you’d expect to see kids smiling, and yet the youngsters were all grinning as they walked into KinderMourn on Feb. 18.
The non-profit organization in Charlotte, North Carolina, works with families who have lost a child, and on that day veteran police officer Chad Webster and his pigs Sgt. Snuggles (Sarge for short) and Frank were waiting for the kids as they arrived.
“They never smile and there they were, just laughing at the pigs,” recalls Webster.
And that’s the point. The 44-year-old father of four started what he calls the Bacon Response Team about eight months ago. He and the pigs have visited schools, the cancer ward at the hospital and community events, trying to spread joy and help kids and adults get comfortable with police. A former patrol officer and domestic violence detective, he now works as a community officer for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
“How many times do you see a pig on a leash? That’s an instant ice breaker,” says Webster. “It’s just a done deal once the pig comes out. It took me two months to convince my wife to agree to get a pig, but now she and everyone else are totally on board.”
They brought home Sarge, an American mini pig, when he was 8 weeks old. A month later, the breeder called and said he’d seen what Webster was doing and he had a special needs pig that needed a home.
“He said the pig’s leg didn’t work right,” says Webster. “My wife went to see him and of course she came home with him.”
The pigs, who now have a dedicated Instagram account and their own room in the already crowded Webster household, are in training to be certified as official therapy pigs.
Webster wears his police uniform when he takes the pigs out, while Sarge walks on a harness and Frank has his own stroller. This unique threesome gets a lot of laughs and inspires many jokes.
“It’s a pig with a pig,” says Webster. “I get that and I take that head-on!”
Webster jokes about it, but he also acknowledges the more serious meaning behind it all...
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