800-pound pet hog shot to death by motorist in Meggett

Elizabeth Steed with Maggie and a Piggly Wiggly mascot

Maggie was a pet with an identity crisis. She was a hog, but she acted more like a dog.

After Piggly Wiggly pardoned Maggie on National Pig Day in 2010, the supermarket chain donated a year’s supply of her favorite grub: dog food. At her sty in Meggett, she learned tricks. Her famed maneuver was sitting — like a dog.

But Maggie’s most endearing quality was her affection for people and her attempts to emulate them.

She cuddled next to visitors. She rolled over for belly rubs. She listened to stories read from a book. She drank Pepsi and ate Oreos. She would eat pork if her owners would let her.

By the time she was 3 years old she was nearly 800 pounds.

Her idyllic existence ended Tuesday afternoon after she escaped from the livestock-rescue farm where she had enjoyed the life of leisure. A motorist who said he thought she presented a traffic hazard shot her twice as she ate acorns on the roadside near the 1,000-acre spread.

Her owner, 47-year-old Elizabeth Steed, had been scrambling home to corral Maggie and another fugitive pig when the shots were fired.

Steed called for justice in Maggie’s death, which resulted in a fine for the motorist. She said the shooter had planned to take the pig to a butcher all along.

“The community is up in arms as much as I am,” Steed said. “They knew her by name, and they loved her. This is heartbreaking.”

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office ticketed David Seth Ashmore, 26, of Smoak Road, on Wednesday for malicious injury to animals. The citation carries a $1,092 fine.

In an interview, Ashmore said he did nothing but eliminate a threat to motorists and residents standing nearby. As a hunter, he said his gunfire was controlled and didn’t pose any danger to the community.

He regarded the pig as a wild animal “with tusks and long hair” and devoid of markings to distinguish it as a pet.

“Hogs are aggressive animals, and they attack people all the time,” he said. “That’s what I want people to understand.”

A deputy who responded at 5:43 p.m. Tuesday wrote in a report that Steed and Ashmore shared the blame for the bloodshed.

Community members already had summoned the Sheriff’s Office to 6940 Ethel Post Office Road in Meggett, which is just south of Hollywood, when they saw Maggie and her pig friend Peaches wandering freely.

The hogs apparently had busted a board in their pen at Steed’s LEARN Horse Rescue and made a break for it. The duo first rolled around next to a pond, then scampered over a path leading through the woods to a nearby church.

Residents snapped photos, sent them to Steed and alerted authorities. But before Steed or deputies could get there, Ashmore drove by in his pickup.

“I am going home to get a gun, and I am going to take that pig to Burbage Meats,” he said, according to a witness account recorded in an incident report. The butcher shop is on U.S. Highway 17 in Ravenel.

The report stated that Ashmore returned with a 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol and aimed it at Maggie, who was standing on the roadside. She was shot twice, in the upper and lower front shoulder. She moseyed into the road and fell.

About 20 people were huddled around the carcass when a deputy showed up. The crowd grew to 70 by the time Steed arrived.

Ashmore had been preparing to load the dead animal into his pickup, but residents’ arrival foiled his plans, the report stated.

He told a deputy that the pig was 100 feet from a corner and could have caused a “major accident” if a vehicle were to round that corner and hit her.

The deputy faulted Ashmore for firing a gun on the road and Steed for the animal’s escape.

Steed said Ashmore could have handled the situation with the pig by pulling over, turning on his emergency signals and waiting for authorities.

Named after a magnolia tree she often sought for shade, Maggie was buried soon after her death. A cross marks her resting place.

“Surely all pigs go to heaven,” Steed said, “especially our girl Maggie.”

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