Specially-Trained Pig on the Butcher Block

A cuddly pig who sits to tea and cucumber sandwiches with her owner is facing the chopping block in England, thanks to a High Court ruling and government fears over foot-and-mouth disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture on June 14 ordered the slaughter of Grunty, a four-foot long, 200-plus-pound porker because her owner, Rosemary Upton, visited another farm whose animals were later found to have foot-and-mouth disease.

The High Court sided with the ministry's decision despite Upton's argument there was no proof Grunty had the disease. But Upton hasn't given up trying to save Grunty's bacon, and has filed an appeal.

"She's more like a dog," said Tom Griffith-Jones, a friend of Upton's who lives in a separate house on the farm. "She has afternoon tea and has cucumber sandwiches, she comes in out of the house and she has never disgraced herself. That's why we don't want the ministry to cull her unnecessarily."

If it all sounds like a scene out of popular porker picture Babe, there is somewhat of a connection. Six-year-old Grunty was taught to sit at a table, wear a napkin and have tea by the same animal trainer who handled the Babe pigs, Griffith-Jones said. But Grunty did not appear in either the original Babe or its sequel, as has been misreported in some newspaper accounts.

"Someone's got the wrong end of the stick," he said.

The New York Post contributed to this report.