Potbellied pig’s owner suddenly collapses — the pet becomes an unlikely hero

December 3, 2017 5:51 pm Last Updated: December 3, 2017 8:16 pm

Pigs are often portrayed as being dirty or unintelligent in literature and the media. In fact, the opposite is true. Ask Jo Ann Altsman from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, about her amazing pet pig Lulu.

Lulu didn’t belong to Jo Ann at first. The Vietnamese pot-bellied pig was her daughter’s pet. After Jo Ann and her husband, Jack, cared for Lulu while her daughter went on vacation, an attachment was formed between Jo Ann and Lulu. In August 1998, this bond proved its weight in gold.

Jo Ann and Jack brought Lulu and their American Eskimo dog Bear on vacation to Presque Isle where they stayed in their trailer. On August 4, Jack went on a fishing trip while Jo Ann stayed behind.

While he was away, Jo Ann suddenly had a heart attack and collapsed on the floor. Jo Ann called for help, but nobody was around to hear, according to Sunny Skyz.

While Bear barked away, it was Lulu who took action.

The trailer had a pet door that was modified for Lulu to use too. Although Jack had adjusted the size, Lulu outgrew it faster than he could reconfigure it. So on this day, Lulu had to work hard to squeeze her 150lb body through the pet door, leaving long, deep scratches on her skin.

When she managed to get outside, Lulu went in search of help.


Lulu approached the street and laid down on the pavement like roadkill. Luckily, a driver stopped to check on the animal. He saw that Lulu was wounded. Lulu took this chance and led him back to the trailer. When the man saw Jo Ann, he quickly dialed 911.

Luckily for Jo Ann, help arrived in time. She was taken to the medical center and underwent open heart surgery. The doctors said another 15 more minutes and she could have died.

From the time Jo Ann had the heart attack to the time aid arrived, it was estimated to be 45 minutes. During that time, it was discovered that Lulu’s wounds came from her going in and out of the pet door not once—but multiple times. Apparently, Lulu would come back to check on Jo Ann and then go out to look for help again.

The following year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals awarded Lulu the Tiffany gold hero’s medal—an honor most definitely deserved.

Lulu has surely proven that pigs can make a great pet, and can “play dead” well too!

If you are considering a potbellied pig as a pet, click here to read about the pros and cons before you adopt one.