Albany International Airport's new therapy pig made national news last week. This week, it brought the attention of a major animal rights organization.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Tuesday called for the airport to remove all bacon, pork and other pig products from airport shops, based on the friendly reception that Bacon Bits -- a 101-pound pot-bellied pig -- received last week when it became one of the few therapy pigs working at a commercial airport.
Therapy animals like 20-month-old Bacon Bits, who lives in Auriesville, Montgomery County, also visit nursing homes and group homes as part of their therapy work. The animals are used to help relax people who may be anxious about flying.
Bacon Bits joined a team of more than 20 therapy dogs at the airport and was a big hit during his Dec. 14 debut. He is expected to return to the airport once every couple of weeks.
"Any passengers who have experienced first-hand how affectionate and social pigs are should lose their lunch at the thought of eating sausage and bacon at the (airport's) food court," said Lisa Lange, PETA's senior vice-president. "PETA is calling on Albany International Airport to put pork on the no-fly list and save the lives of numerous sensitive, curious animals just like this beloved therapy pig."
A letter from PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk to airport CEO John O'Donnell also noted that not serving pork products at the airport, and serving vegan meats instead, could bring health benefits to those passing through.
"We hope to hear that you'll encourage restaurants to remove all pig meat from the menu," the letter concluded.
Officials at the airport acknowledged receiving the PETA letter but would not make any substantive comments on the organization's request.
"We are reviewing the letter from PETA," said airport spokesman Doug Myers.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.