Being a "legitimate" sanctuary is NOT about being a 501c-3 or how many animals one has in their care. It is about caring well for what you have, within YOUR means, having the ability to carry on without being dependent on others financially, and knowing your limits and sticking to them, whether it is 2 animals or 100.
Keep in mind that just because someone CLAIMS to be a non-profit does not mean they are. There have been quite a few over the last few years that have been proven to be a scam that quickly to come to mind. These people are slick and have all the right words. If someone claims to be a 501c-3, ASK FOR PROOF and do not send a penny until you see it. Know who the people/operators are BEHIND the name of a sanctuary or rescue. If you see only a sanctuary/rescue name but no names/addresses for the operators, do not donate until you know who they are and that they are legit. If you see constant requests for money but little posted about the animal residents, step away. Any good rescue will post pictures of their animals, updated pictures, not the same pictures over and over again. They will provide proof of where the money is going should they be asked to. Also, just because the operators are "friends" with other pig people does not mean they are who they say. Some of these people had many "friends" in the pig world, most who friended them after seeing other pig people among their FB friends or seeing a post they made tugging at heartstrings. Once they had a few hooked, others follow suit like a snowball rolling downhill, none knowing the truth. Their "friends" list fill with people who have no idea who they are. These people did NOT run a sanctuary. Instead, one group was actually scammers who sent pigs to slaughter. KNOW WHO YOU ARE DEALING WITH AND SENDING ANIMALS TO! 501c-3 status means nothing with regards to actual care of the animals. Claiming to be a nonprofit organization may even be false, which is also illegal. You can look up a legitimate 501c3 to be sure it is, in fact, a legitimate organization who has filed for the nonprofit status and registered with the state and IRS.
If you see a new sanctuary pop up and immediately start asking for donations for fencing, feed and housing, consider very carefully before contributing in any way. They have not proven themselves to be capable of supporting their new venture on their own and instead are counting on YOU to pay their way. With very few exceptions, they will be unable to support the animals/property without financial help. Do they even OWN the property? Do they know how to properly care for the pigs? Are they, at a minimum, securely separating intact pigs of opposite sexes to prevent breeding? Do they even have a vet??? What are they feeding the pigs?
If you see someone continually saying "I will take that pig", "Send them to me", "I can take in all of those", frequently tagging the same someone else to take pigs in need, it could be a very bad situation. There are a lot of flippers out there, breeders claiming to "rescue" when in fact they are looking for more breeding stock, people who sell for slaughter, hoarders, people looking for dog bait animals, pigs to breed for snake food...all sorts of evil posing behind the words "rescue" or "sanctuary". DO YOUR RESEARCH. ASK AROUND.
Please note that there are hundreds of LEGITIMATE rescues who are NOT registered non-profits AND there have been some very ILLEGTIMATE ones who were. We, who are private work full time jobs to care for our rescued animals and don't constantly beg for others to send us money to support them, are extremely legitimate. We are proving that we are, in fact, responsible people who do not continually look for others to support our cause. I stand by my belief that if you cannot support the animals in your care with your own hard work, and if you plan to solicit donations from others to do so, you are putting those very animals at great risk when the donations dry up...and sooner or later they will. Economic situations change, interests wane, people move on to other causes that touch them...but the animals you are responsible for remain in your care. Do not have them eventually become someone else's responsibility when the money stops from donations. Start slow and small and be as certain as you can of your own ability to finance your rescue. Own the property you establish your rescue on and have the means to survive without depending on others to pay your way. Only a very few are successful doing so and times are not easy for them, despite having been well established for many years. More and more there are people with outstretched hands begging for funds. Those who donate are stretched thin and may be confused where their funds will be best used when so many hands are waving in their faces. My response is...stay local or contribute to well established sanctuaries or to the new who are known and publicly supported by the old. If someone is desperate for feed or vet money and you plan to help, do so by sending funds directly to a feed store or vet clinic, not to an individual's paypal account. Ask for receipts. Know where your money is going.
With the overwhelming number of pigs needing homes due to mass producing by greeders and irresponsible owners, there is a huge need for more sanctuaries. It is a golden opportunity for the scammers to hop on board and blend in. Don't be scammed. Look for the red flags and do NOT give your hard earned money to someone undeserving who may or may not even have pigs in their care.
~Dawn Camp, Camp Skipping Pig Rescue
Our names are Brittany Sawyer and Nicole Cox and we are pig parents, pig advocates and also the authors of the "Dear Pig Whisperer" blog. Follow our blog that will feature topics to help you become the best pig parent you can be...along with some other fun things. We will also feature guest bloggers from time to time who want to share their life experience or knowledge with anyone who is interested in learning.