I had the unique pleasure of chatting with Ziggy's mama yesterday for almost 4 hours on the phone. (We are women, women like to talk. lol) But while talking to her, I learned about some of the GREAT things that are being planned for Ziggy's Refuge. They are currently raising money for the downpayment for this "once in a lifetime property" opportunity in NC where they plan to have a vegan bed and breakfast, Ziggyfest (yearly), MANY other things and most of all, they hope to be able to assist sooooo many animals on the east coast that needs homes every day with their sanctuary.
From my understanding, there has been some outside chatter about them, their plans, their goal and some people have been extremely hateful about their desire to start a rescue. That makes me sad. They have done so much to help others and based on those experiences from traveling with Ziggy, they knew animal rescue is what they wanted to do. So here are some important things that I believe will help clarify some of the lingering questions people may have. I have met Ziggy, Kristin and Jay, I have seen their passion, I have heard them speak about the desire to change peoples and animals lives. I have nothing but nice things to say about them and honestly can't imagine anyone saying anything ugly or hateful to or about them. If you have a dream, it is up to YOU to go after it. I was not asked to write anything on their behalf, I wanted to in order to clarify some questions that people may have. Here are some things I want to clear up about their situation.
1. They will have a mortgage, the money they're trying to raise is for a downpayment so the mortgage payment will be within reason plus a little more to make some much needed improvements in order for them to be have the ability to start rescuing animals on that property immediately.
2. The plans go way beyond what is in the fundraising campaign. I don't know if I am letting the cat out of the bag by telling everyone about some of the other things they plan to do, but I will share some of what I learned when talking to Kristin. They have several structures on the property, so they want those families, who want to adopt a pig, to come stay in one of the cottages for a few days WITH the pig they want to adopt so they're comfortable with the care of a pig before taking that pig home. (Meeting other criteria will also play a crucial part in the adoption process, of course) but, how awesome is that? I wish I had someone next door that could've showed me how to do things and what the different behaviors and sounds meant. Volunteers will also have the ability to stay right on the property eliminating the need to find a hotel or find somewhere to stay.
3. They are not trying to take funding away from anyone else or other rescues who are in need of money for various things. Ziggy's parents have been working towards this goal ever since they reached the US from their home in the Virgin Islands and they saw the need for additional rescues during their travels. This particular plan has been in the works for about a year. They have been looking at properties all over the US for quite some time in an attempt to find one located in an area that was accessible to the public rather easily. Their ultimate goal is to be able to help some of the larger, well-established rescues when they're ready to retire. As it stands, ALL the rescues are full. There is nowhere for pigs to go if a rescue closes. So I thought it was important to mention that.
4. They have a "live" question/answer event, once a week, I believe. They do it live so people can ask questions in real time and get answers on the spot. If you have questions about them, their plans, their fundraiser or anything else, go to Ziggy the traveling pig page and see when their next live session will be and comment with your questions. They also have a generous attorney who is helping them on this venture who has also applied for their 501c3. (Which is still pending as of today-these things take time to get into place, but typically they are retroactive to the date you filed) I personally appreciate the transparency and willingness on their part to answer the tough questions people ask.
5. They have obviously dedicated their lives to helping animals and have spent the last several years living in an RV and traveling the US stopping off to help several rescues for long periods of time. So they have some experience in what rescuing animals entails. They have learned valuable life lessons, good ways to do things and they have also learned about the bad part of rescue. Things to avoid, what NOT to do when you have animals to care for. They have had the opportunity to meet with people from all over the country and they've been given guidance from some of the wonderful places that rescue pigs, in addition to other animals, that will guide them towards success. They are not claiming to know everything there is about animal rescue, they will have a lot more to learn, but I respect anyone who is dedicated as much as they are to making this happen.
6. They plan to have seminars and events routinely at Ziggy's Refuge. Educational seminars, How-to clinics, community events...everything that encompasses animal rescue. They also eventually want to have employees and veterinarians that stay on the property. None of this will happen overnight, but again, the goal is for Ziggy's Refuge to continue forever, long after Jay and Kristin have passed on. (That is a little morbid, I know, but they want their dream to be carried on by others once they are no longer able to physically do it themselves. Like 50-60 years from now)
Ultimately, they want to have a rescue that people WANT to go to. A place that people plan their vacation around so they can visit the animals, possibly volunteer and I think that is GREAT. There are so many rescues that are overwhelmed. They are full, they have no more room and as these animals get older, their needs increase often needing more costly care leaving even less resources available to help other animals in desperate need of help. Most rescues start off by accident. I do not know of anyone that has a rescue and it was their childhood dream to do so. Most start because there is nowhere else for these animals to go and their heart won't let them walk away from an animal in need.
Ziggy and his parents are making a conscious decision to help animals and they're doing so by creating their own community that will be self sustained, much like a business. They will welcome people to visit, have cottages that people can rent. Host weddings and events for others. That is also why this particular property is so important to them. It isn't hundreds of miles away from everything and everybody. It is on the east coast and positioned in the mid-atlantic area, easily accessible to many animals who may need a safe place to go. They're not asking for everyone to donate hundreds of dollars, they're asking for everyone to donate 5.00 to help them get to their goal. If you want to help, awesome. Donate. If you do not, that's ok too, thanks for taking the time to read what I have had to say. Please consider sharing their fundraiser so they can reach more people.
I wish Ziggy all the best luck to reach his goal and will help out in any way that I can. I wish nothing but success for EVERYONE who is working on the front lines to help animals, but I also know there is room for one more! Help them reach their goal by donating or sharing, write about a memorable experience you may have had with Ziggy, write about your dream experience with them. If meeting them is on your bucket list, that dream may be more attainable than you think. Ask them how you can help them, share their story and fundraiser, be supportive, be kind. That is how the pig community works, we always help each other.
We urge everyone to do some research on anyone or any organization they're donating to, thats just the smart thing to do!
Use the link below to read more about their plans....I know I am super excited to watch this happen!
This was my first time meeting Ziggy and his family. I loved them. His mama was super passionate about appropriately caring for him as well as other animals and it is a great honor to call them friends.
Something that can be extremely frustrating to those of us who try to help other pig parents, is when people ask for advice-yet don't listen to it. This is even more frustrating when they ask for the same advice a week later and you see it and you respond hey I told you this last week this is what you needed to do yet they still don't do it. Even more frustrating than that is when it's suddenly become an emergency and they still don't take their pig the vet. In some of these cases, the pig has died as a result of the flat out negligence and people have eventually admitted they simply didn't have the money. We can't all be financially prepared for every emergency situation, although, I wish that we were. However, instead of the situation being addressed for what it is, lack of funds, everyone is trying their best to advise others on how to handle it, sometimes the vet is the only appropriate response. This doesn't help the pig in need because this pig parent has no intentions of taking their pig to the vet to be seen.
What is even more frustrating is that there are organizations that were created for these specific reasons. Charities that collect and disperse funds for emergencies. If money is the issue and you're embarrassed about that, we understand. Putting your business on FB isn't a good idea and people can be quite judgmental. I have seen the comments from people who say "If you can't afford your pig, you shouldn't have one" and other hateful things. Is this helpful advice? Obviously not. If you can privately message a trusted friend who is resourceful, that person will likely point you in the right direction. But, you have to know that people will get upset when they see nothing was done to help a pig when the information to save them was provided and that person did nothing. Typically the next post we see is "My pig crossed rainbow bridge or died today and I have no idea why" or "I tried everything I could to save him". Did you? Did you do everything you could to save that pig? If you didn't have the money, did you call around to any vet practices to see if they'd make payment arrangements? Did you listen to any of the people who tried to tell you that your pig would die without a veterinarian intervening? No, you didn't do everything you could, you posted about your situation on FB and asked for help and didn't listen to anyone and didn't take your pig to the vet.
When someone urgently asks for help and then fails to answer pertinent questions, we are unable to help and feel as if we are wasting our time. If you send us a message with the words HELP! and nothing else, how are we supposed to know how to help you? People do this all over Facebook, in groups, in private message, on other posts. Without complete information, no one can help you with your pig. Use common sense, if your pig has an area of concern, such as a rash, describing that rash to someone is a great idea, but sending a clear picture of the rash should follow the description. If you think your pig is having a neurological issue and you describe the ongoing situation, take a quick video so others can see what you are describing. In having complete details, this can help field messages or calls into urgent categories. If someone wants help with potty training and another person has a pig with a fever of 106, I am going to prioritize messages and help the person with the sick pig first. If someone on Facebook isn't able to help you because your pig needs to see a veterinarian, having those pictures and/or video will help your vet diagnosis and treat your pig as well.
You have to understand, most people on Facebook also work full-time jobs, have homes and families of their own to care for, so they cannot be on Facebook all day every day just to answer your questions. People typically check messages several times a day or check them when they can. Also remember, while trying to answer questions from one worried pig parent, we may also be on the computer juggling three or four other private messages with people having questions or needing help and encouragement. Give us the courtesy of a response when a question is asked. Ask to take the conversation private if you want. If an admin or anyone else hooks you up with a vet, you call the vet late at night, and he is kind enough to set you up with an early morning appointment, BE THERE. Don't show up hours late to the appointment. It is extremely rude. Vets are busy people and have schedules to keep. If they extend to you the courtesy of squeezing you in because it is urgent, you owe them the courtesy of showing up at the appointed time. If you cannot, you owe them the courtesy of a phone call to let them know you will be late. For the people who get their panties in a bunch over a perceived insult or slight, all I can say is get a grip. If you are so very easily offended by words, social media is not a safe place for you. I do not think people realize how emotionally vested others are when they become involved with a situation. I know I have woke up in the morning worried about someone else's pig after tossing and turning all night.
We have a health form on the website. (Click here to see the downloadable health form) If people would use this form, or a basic "fact" sheet when asking questions about medical situations, it would help describe the whole situation instead of having bits and pieces of information. When people have to go back and forth asking questions to pull the basic information out of someone, it just wastes valuable time and using some kind of standard form to collect your thoughts can potentially be life saving to a pig in an urgent situation. It allows all the pertinent information to be collected at one time so everything that may be asked is already answered. It makes questionable types of situations much easier to explore.
Sometimes we stay up late to help, sometimes we even show up in person...Above all we care about the pigs and offer support to the best of our individual abilities. We are also honest and "call 'em as we see 'em". We all have different approaches, but when it comes to the well being of the pigs we do not coddle. We state the truth. Some are offended by the truth. Some shop around until they hear what they WANT to hear, which isn't always the right or truthful thing, and may very well be harmful. When someone claims to have a "micro-mini" pig, you can rest assured they will be corrected. There is no such thing. There have been times when people got offended by the choice of words, but you have to understand, the statements we make are not only posted on our website, preached on a daily basis, but the odds are, there is more than one conversation taking place and the person who is responding has just been overwhelmed with those types of messages or posts on any given day. We all have a limit on what we can handle and those limits are pushed occasionally.
I'm sorry that sounds harsh, and it is harsh. Pigs deserve better than that and I am sick and tired of seeing people ask questions about specific situations they're having and then doing nothing to save their pig. I could not imagine watching a pig suffer and die. That would haunt me for the rest of my life. Should I be ashamed of myself for going off on a rant about this? I don't think so, but it doesn't matter anyways, I'm too busy being ashamed of the people doing these things.
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.