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Swimming pig wins national award

By
BETTY LUMAN

HOUSTON -- Dressed in a purple felt cape trimmed in ostrich feathers and wearing purple panties, Priscilla the swimming pet pig Friday received the top award presented by the American Humane Society.

Priscilla, a 7-month-old white pig weighing between 85 and 100 pounds, won the annual William O. Stillman Award for the July rescue of an 11-year-old mentally retarded boy who ventured too far into Lake Somerville northwest of Houston.

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'I'm all choked up,' Victoria Herberta said upon accepting the award for her pig. Herberta, 45, said she had wanted a pet pig since she was 4 years old and having Priscilla is 'just like having a child.'

'She's saying she really appreciates it,' Herberta said as Priscilla oinked while examining the plaque in ceremonies at the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Herberta wore a complementing purple blouse and purple running shoes and painted her fingernails purple to match the purple polish on Priscilla's hooves and the pig's purple eye shadow and blush.

'She's way past the spoiled stage,' Herberta said.

The pig has full run of Herberta's Houston home and yard, has her own bedroom and bed, drinks nine cases of Mountain Dew each month and loves to eat tuna fish sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, avocados and cheeseburgers.

Priscilla became famous after Carol Burk, mother of Anthony Melton, told United Press International about the pig's feat.

'The reason I called you,' Burk said Friday, 'is because I wanted Priscilla to get credit for it.'

Burk had taken Priscilla, the offspring of a former diving pig at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas, and Anthony swimming on July 29. Anthony, a resident of Brenham State School, followed her into the deep water as she took Priscilla out for a final swim.

'Just as I was letting Priscilla go, my son got out too far,' she said. 'He went down once, then he went down another time. I told him to catch hold of Priscilla's leash. Then they both went down. I thought, 'My God, I've lost them both.''

Ms. Burk said Priscilla then pulled Anthony to shallow water.

A spokeswoman for the American Humane Association in Denver said four other animals have received the Stillman award this year and three people have received the award in 1984 for saving an animal's life. The award began in 1928.

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