An Ottawa couple says they’re devastated by the deaths of their two pet potbelly pigs, which were shot in their own yard by an overzealous neighbour who mistook them for boars.

The two pigs, named Pickles and Rosie, were killed approximately three weeks ago while Matt Nooyen and his wife, Lianne Guilbeault, were away from their house. The neighbour has offered them $1,000 for what he called a “horrible error,” but the couple says they want $12,000 for the pain he’s caused them. They also want to raise awareness about hunters trespassing on other people’s property.

“We’re truly shattered,” Guilbeault told CTV Ottawa. “This was my husband’s childhood dream, to have pet pigs.”

Nooyen says he was crushed by the deaths of Pickles and Rosie. “I miss them every day, and I can honestly say I haven’t been myself since it happened,” he said.

They say the neighbour left them a voicemail message asking for permission to shoot “wild boars” outside their house earlier this month, but did not respond to their reply that the animals were pet pigs, not boars.

“I called him back 20 minutes or so later and left him a voicemail… saying ‘Do not shoot, they are our pet potbelly pigs,’” Guilbeault said. “They most likely got out of their pig pen,” she told the neighbour in her message. “Please do not shoot. You do not have permission.”

She says she sent a similar message to the neighbour over Facebook, but received no reply.

Guilbeault informed Nooyen about the situation and he rushed home, where he says he found two neighbours standing in the driveway of his home. The two claimed they were waiting to hear back from Guilbeault, Nooyen said.

“I said, ‘She tried calling you guys back,’ and then that’s when they said, ‘Well, I guess my phone must be in the car,’” Nooyen said. He says the neighbours told him the pigs were behind a cover-all building on the property, but he could not find them anywhere.

Guilbeault eventually got in touch with the neighbour, at which point he admitted to shooting the pigs and carrying them away.

Guilbeault said she started “shaking, crying, screaming” after the admission, “not understanding why.

“I don’t even know how I made it home,” she said. “My husband was the same way.”

The neighbour declined to be interviewed on camera with CTV Ottawa, but said the incident was the biggest mistake of his life. He says he thought he was helping the neighbourhood by putting down wild boars, which can be a dangerous nuisance.

Potbelly pigs can reach a mature weight of up to 125 pounds (56.8 kilograms), according to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. Male wild boars can reach sizes of up to 150 pounds (68 kg) in the wild.

Nooyen and Guilbeault initially threatened legal action against their neighbour, but are no longer pursuing that course of action. Instead, they’re trying to raise awareness following the incident. “Trespassing is illegal,” Guilbeault said. “Trespassing is not OK.”

With files from CTV Ottawa