CLEVELAND, Ohio-- The owners of a miniature pig named Spam say he has become part of their family and has even been accepted by their cat and their dog.
"He's about a year old, about 15 pounds, and very stubborn," said owner, Paul Etzler, with a laugh.
But Etzler was not laughing when he returned to his home on Cleveland's west side on Monday afternoon, and discovered that someone had broken in and stolen whatever valuables they could find.
"And then I realized that I didn't hear the pig oinking and he does this really loud grunt, and I didn't hear anything and then I realized his carrier was gone, so they must have put him in the carrier and took him out and spilled his food all the way out,” said Etzler.
He says the burglar also took electronic equipment and jewelry, but he believes the thief had cased the house earlier and viewed the pig as the prize.
Etzler told Fox 8, "you know pigs like that go between $500 and $2000 dollars and obviously we kept him very healthy, so you know on the market, how much would they go for; you can go on social media and I think the average price would be a $1000."
Spam's owners believe they know where the kidnapper took their prized pig, at least initially.
It turns out that one of the other items that he took from their home was an iPad and they decided to track the GPS on the device. The signal eventually led them to a vacant building in East Cleveland. They were disappointed when they called East Cleveland Police to search the building and an officer told them that using a GPS to track a person or device is not considered reliable enough to get a search warrant. He also advised them that the break-in and pig-napping were in the jurisdiction of Cleveland Police.
"That’s okay, but it looks like something is happening there and whether it's permissible or not, somebody has to do something and no one has done anything," said Etzler.
He says his greatest fear is that whomever ends up buying Spam will get tired of caring for the pig. "Because they're not easy animals. They're not a dog. They're not a cat. They're up at night and you work around it, but if someone doesn't know that, they're going to let him loose; I have no doubt in my mind,” he said.
The family is asking Fox 8 viewers and Facebook friends to keep an eye on social media and various “buy and sell” websites, for any evidence that the thief is trying to sell the pig.