ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Len Lucero never imagined he would become an Internet sensation.
Now that he is, he is taking it all in stride.
“It’s a lot of work managing all of the social media,” he says. “But someone’s got to do it. And this isn’t even my full-time job.”
Lucero is a veterinarian based in Florida and is owner of Chris P. Bacon. As you may have guessed Chris P. Bacon is a pig, who Lucero nursed back to health and takes care of now.
Chris P. Bacon also is the reason Lucero is an Internet sensation and the duo will be featured as part of the TV show “Nature: My Bionic Pet” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9 on New Mexico PBS.
The TV show focuses on the stories of pets and their owners when animal prosthetics are used.
Lucero’s story is simple.
After graduating with his doctorate of veterinary medicine in 2012 from the University of Florida, Lucero took a job at a small-animal hospital in Clermont, Fla.
Wanting to eventually be a large-animal veterinarian, the New Mexico native opened up his own mobile practice and took appointments in the evenings and weekends.
In January 2012, a young lady brought a day-old piglet with a birth defect of the hind limbs into the animal hospital he worked at to have it euthanized.
“After a thorough examination of the piglet, I determined that aside from the birth defect, the piglet was healthy and I would not euthanize him,” he says. “The owner explained to me that her schedule would not allow her to take the piglet and give him a good quality of life. The owner surrendered the young piglet to me and our adventure together started.”
Upon taking Chris P. Bacon home, Lucero took one of his son’s old toys and made a cart that would allow the piglet to use his front legs to walk, while his hind legs were in the cart.
Lucero made a video of the piglet for his family in New Mexico and posted it on YouTube.
The video went viral and to date has nearly 2 million views on YouTube.
“This whole situation has changed my life,” he says. “It was about giving this little guy a chance. Since we’ve taken him in, he’s also added to my family’s life.”
Lucero says Chris P. Bacon is now 14 months old and moves around a lot better. The cart has been modified by Lucero some more and it’s comfortable for the animal to function.
“He can literally run with the device on,” he says. “I’ve actually jogged around my neighborhood with him and he keeps up. He’s come so far and it’s really great to see that people enjoy hearing the story.”
Lucero – who grew up on a farm in Amalia, near the Colorado border – has taken his job a little further. In addition to being a veterinarian, he also keeps a website – chrispbacon.org – and is signed to a three-book deal with Hay House Publishing Company.
“I have the job of my dreams,” he says. “Then I get to spend the rest of my time keeping up with all of the Chris’s stuff. It can be a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Lucero is no stranger to being on TV. He’s appeared on “The Today Show,” “Anderson Cooper Live,” “Discovery Channel Canada” and “Fox and Friends.”
He says being part of “Bionic Pet” is another avenue to tell the story.
“I do feel sort of weird because Chris doesn’t necessarily have prosthetics,” he says. “The show is about that, but for Chris, the device he’s using is pretty cutting edge. It’s made great strides for him in his life.”