LONDON - British firefighters were feeling the heat on Wednesday after eating "fantastic" sausages made from piglets they themselves had saved from the flames, prompting the ire of animal rights activists.
Firefighters in the village of Pewsey, south-west England, were delighted to "sample the fruits of our labours" when a farmer delivered sausages made from piglets the crew had rescued from a barn fire.
"Highly recommended by Pewsey fire station crew and if any one of our followers is having a bank holiday BBQ this weekend then check out these sausages, they are fantastic," the crew said in a Facebook post which has since been removed.
Two sows and 18 piglets were saved in February when a barn owned by farmer Rachel Rivers went up in flames.
Rivers thanked the rescuers with the promise of sausages when the animals were slaughtered, but the celebratory BBQ was met with anger from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).
"These poor piglets were no better off for escaping the fire only to be put back into it six months later after being subjected to the horrifying experience of the abattoir.
"What if these firefighters had 'saved' a human child or a dog?" said Mimi Bekhechi from Peta.
The campaigner said Peta would send the fire service vegan sausages, "so that they can see how easy it is to truly be heroes for pigs".
Speaking to the BBC, Rivers accepted that "vegetarians will hate this" but had no regrets about her gift.
"We farm and this is what we do. You can't keep them as pets," she said.
Pewsey fire station later apologised for their original Facebook post, prompting a mixed reaction from social media users.
"The very fact that you were served the exact piglets you 'rescued' is an intentional disrespectful and perverse act," wrote Facebook user Hannah Turnbull.
But local resident Ben Cremin added: "No need to apologise, you guys and girls are local heroes! The gift of the sausages was a really nice gesture by the farmer.
"Maybe only the local people understand where meat comes from?"