SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Bernard the potbellied pig was rescued from a situation where his owners let him grow to be dangerously overweight. Now, the race is on to nurse the portly porker back to health.
When Bernard first came to Pasado's Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary he weighed in at a whopping 250 pounds. Now, nearly four months later, he's down to 219 pounds.
"He was in pretty rough shape," said worker Lindsay Hamerly. "Bernard was so overweight the fat was covering his eyes, so he was functionally blind."
Bernard's former owners had let him get so fat he could barely walk. Breathing became difficult and his body ached under all that weight.
"Bernard has a lot of inflammation and arthritis from years of being overweight and very unhealthy," said Hamerly.
Workers at Pasado's are intent on helping Bernard get fit, administering SCENAR, an electromagnetic therapy that promotes blood flow and healing.
And that's just the beginning.
They've also introduced Oliver, another potbellied pig, although much younger, thinner and more active. He serves as a porcine personal trainer of sorts.
"Oliver encourages Bernard to get up and move, to walk outside and be more active," said sanctuary director Stephanie Perciful.
Bernard is now on a strict diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. He gets massages for his sore joints and sees a doctor for regular check ups.
Once he has lost about 50 more pounds the plan is for the pig to undergo plastic surgery in the form of a tummy tuck and face lift.
"The fat will go away and lessen, but there will be skin that needs to be removed," said Perciful. "We'll likely have to pin back the skin on his head and around his eyes so he can see again."
The hope is that both Bernard and Oliver can be adopted or fostered together once Bernard is healthy enough.
"He's gonna look like a shiny new pig when he's ready to go home," said Perciful.