What makes some better than others at pig parenthood? (yeah, we aren't perfect either, so we have no idea) However, there are some things you can do to try and prepare for anything that may be in you and your pigs future. We will be adding to this blog as more things come to mind.
Anyone who has a pig that has either had to flip an uncooperative pig or simply restrain a pig that doesn't want to be restrained KNOWS the squeals that come out of your pigs mouth do not reflect their normal demeanor. However, when you have procedures planned and have neighbors close-by, it is just the right thing to do-to let them know what will be happening, just so they don't think there is an issue at your house.
Keeping a journal of what your pig is doing, has done plus additional details about the care of your pig, this is helpful in many ways. As mentioned in the picture, we suggest you use our pig health form to help you gather the important information your vet will need in order to prioritize when your pig should be seen. Click here to view the page where these documents can be found.
Pigs are like kids in the car, if you slam on the brakes, pigs have no idea what to do or how to "brace themselves". Providing a sense of security for your pig by using a crate or something similar that restricts the area in which they can go is helpful in preventing injury. You would most likely beat yourself up if your pig had a fall in your vehicle resulting in an injury.
Secure fencing is a big one. Some peoples fencing is perfectly arranged with no weakness whatsoever....however, a stray dog looking for an easy target WILL get over a chain link fence or fencing that isn't set up right. Pallets can be used to make a sturdy fence, but they must be reinforced with other materials and because they are so low to the ground, you will also need to figure out something to protect your pig from other animals entering the yard. Click here to view the page with fencing examples.
Ticks are NOT my favorite insect, not by any stretch of the imagination. But, there are ways to control them in the yard. Some vets approve frontline or Advantage + for use in pigs, please note, you MUST pay close attention to the weight restrictions. Click here to learn more about summertime concerns including a DIY tick and mosquito spray.
This information is covered in our new pig parent section as well, click here to read more information if you are new to pigs.
Nutrition and body scoring are both addressed on our website. Click here to read more about nutrition and click here to read more about body scoring for pigs.
This actually should've been number 1 on the list, but we cannot express the importance of this enough! Click here to read the wide range of complications your pig can have from not being spayed or neutered. It really isn't worth the risk.
So what should go in a first aid kit? What else do you need handy? Click here to find out!
If you suspect your pig is sick, the very first thing you should do is take your pigs temperature. Having a baseline core body temperature is key to knowing whether or not your pig has a fever, can lead you to your next step. The presence of a fever can indicate an infection is brewing, heat distress/overheating or even a systemic response to something else. If your pig has a high fever, it is recommended that your pig be seen by a vet.
You can click here to see our vet map. This is a very user friendly map, all you need to do is search by city or "zoom in" to your area to see what vet practices are close to you.
Obviously we have tons of great information on our website. Most of the important info regarding a pigs health can be found within the subsections of those pages, but you can click here to read more about specific diseases that are popping up more frequently.
There are a few laws that affect pet pigs and you may have heard of some of them, but likely were not thinking outside the box to realize there are several more that may apply. You don't have to be a professor at a big University that teaches law to know that you have rules and regulations, as well as laws, if applicable. We have selected a few laws that may apply to you when you have an unconventional pet, such as a pet pig.
1. Wills and Estates Law
There was a case in NY several years back about a dog and the dog parent leaving ALL of her estate to the dog. Although contested, the family was quite shocked to find out that her will was legal and enforceable. The family contested, of course, and although they did win a portion, the bulk of her estate did, in fact, go to her dog. (If I am remembering all the facts correctly). This is an issue for a number of reasons...First, be sure to include your pig in any last will and testament you may have on file, including designation to who will care for your pig once you are no longer here to do so yourself. If you have assets, leave financial support for the care of your beloved porcine friend. Second part is to keep this document updated. It will do no good to name someone who is no longer with us. This is important for anyone who has a pet pig, but probably more-so for the rescue community who have large numbers of pigs that will need to be cared for long after they're gone. Always have back up plans for back up plans.
2. Travel Laws
We have said it before and now saying it again, you MUST check with the state you are traveling into to see what laws/regulations are in effect for pigs in that state. Some states require visible identification, some require blood tests such as brucellosis and pseudorabies before they will permit a pig to cross the state lines, others may simply require a CVI (certificate of veterinary inspection) also referred to as a health certificate. Whatever the regulations are, be sure you follow them. Click here to be directed to the USDA travel guidelines. The reason for these rules and regulations is actually to protect YOUR pig as well as other pigs from disease that can be carried over by an infected pig. This is also why the penalties are so steep for violations of these rules.
3. Zoning Restrictions
Each state is different in their ordinances regarding keeping pigs within city limits. Each county may have conflicting ordinances within the same state, but you MUST follow YOUR city/county/town ordinance. Many people have waged wars with their cities to try and have the ordinance amended to allow pigs to reside within the city limits. Some people have successfully had the ordinance changed or amended and some have not been successful. It is not worth the fight if you can find out beforehand or try and have the ordinance changed BEFORE you add a pig to your family. There is a lot of disappointment and heartbreak when you get a pig, find out the city doesn't allow pigs in the city and then have to find a new home for your beloved pet. Click here to read more about how to check and see if you're zoned to have a pig and also how you can work to change the city ordinance. All it takes is one jerk person to call and "report" you in order to get the wheels of justice moving. Do not get a pig if you have to hide it. That isn't good for you, your family or your pig.
HOA (homeowners associations) can also impact whether or not you are "allowed" to have a pig. Do not sign HOA paperwork that isn't clear on what is traditional and what is not. Sometimes the wording doesn't include or exclude pigs, but you need to be sure of what is included so you can avoid a court case to try and fight to keep your pig.
4. Divorce Law
Pigs are like our children and we will fight to protect them as such. If there are 2 loving pig parents and the possibility y'all will not live happily ever after, try to come to some kind of agreement prior to the nastiness of a divorce to determine who will retain custody of the pig(s). Pets have been included in prenuptial agreements in the past, although typically this refers to cats and dogs, we are pig people, so we encourage you to take in consideration your pigs thoughts and feelings too. Of course, neither kids nor pets can be split into pieces and distributed between the disagreeing parties to a divorce. Therefore, judges are being presented with, and many are approving, shared animal custody or visitation rights for husbands and wives, domestic partners and even roommates when they are faced with pet custody disputes.
5. Corporate Law
It can be big local news when a farmer is caught neglecting or abusing his farm animals. The local humane organizations and the animal control officer might show up and take the cattle, horses or sheep to a rehabilitator or foster home, but there usually isn’t a great deal of money involved. The situation is different, however, when some Fortune 500 company is accused of the same — that’s national news.
At one time, virtually no one had the resources to challenge a big company such as a billion-dollar, publicly held fast-food chain if one of these companies was caught treating food animals in an inhumane way. But now, very well-funded humane organizations and animal rights groups are pursuing (and winning) animal cruelty cases against these very large defendants.
And now that big-money cases and large potential jury awards have begun to revolve around animals, you can be sure that corporate attorneys are generally paying much closer attention to the precise meaning of animal-protection legislation. They want to know every nuance of these laws’ applicability to the millions of food animals under the control of their corporate clients. We see this mainly in the farming community, but there has been abuse/neglect/fraud in the pet pig world too.
6. Bailment Law
This is a legal concept that basically means that when the property of another person is placed in your hands, you have a duty to care for it and return it to its owner undamaged. For example, a "bailment" is created when a valet parks your car or when you check your luggage at the airline counter.
So, in the world of animals, what happens when Mr. Smith drops piggyy off to be groomed one morning at the local pet groomer and Mrs. Smith picks piggy up in the afternoon? There was never a problem when this happened for piggy’s first few grooming appointments.
This time, though, the pet groomer had no idea that the Smiths have become legally separated. Imagine the horror when Mr. Smith comes in to collect piggy and his pet is no longer there! The grooming business owner might not care that the Smiths are tied up in a terrible legal battle. What she should be concerned about is if she doesn’t carry bailment insurance and now has to defend herself and her business in a lawsuit lodged by Mr. Smith for his “suffering and anguish” attributable to her having relinquished his property - piggy - to someone not authorized to possess the pig. Same thing applies to boarding an animal. When you drop off your pig to be boarded for a week, you expect to return to a healthy and happy pig, what happens if thats not the case? What happens if your boarding facility neglects your pig resulting in your pigs death? They are liable.
7. Personal Injury Law
You may have the Best. Pig. Ever. BUT, if your pig is at a community event and gets agitated because some kid keeps putting their hands in its' face, your pig may headswipe or even bite...are you responsible? Of course you are.
First, be sure your pig is vaccinated against any disease that can be passed via an animal bite, like rabies to lessen the chances of something bad happening to your pig because of an accidental or even purposeful bite. Second, if your pig tends to bite, do NOT do community events! Do not set your pig up for failure by placing him/her in an environment with a lot of people if your pig is socially standoffish. Third, do stand there with your animal and remove your pig from the premises if you can see your pig is frustrated. Place signs on your pigs area cautioning people that your pig will bite if provoked. Do NOT let young children handle your pig without you being present or literally holding the pig while they gently pet the back or leg while your have a firm grip.
However, again, if your pig is not trained and socially inept, do NOT take your pig to events like "kiss the pig" or similar situations where your pig is expected to preform a service or act in a certain way for an audience. If your pig is not used to dealing with the public and seems a bit skittish, you will need to work more with your pig before having expectations of your pig being in the spotlight and being successful.
8. Property Damage
If you are a renter, this may be applicable to you. ALWAYS take pictures and do an inspection before you move in noting any areas of concern. Be sure your landlord knows you have a pig and you have written permission to have a pet pig in a rental home. There may be preexisting damage that your pig didn't do, that you are being blamed for. Pigs dig, pigs root, pigs will tear up walls and floors. Pigs will accidentally break doors where food is stored. Pigs will accidentally remove flooring when they're bored. Just know these things can happen with a pet pig and if you're visiting someone or renting a home, you may be on the line for damages as a result of your pig being in that home.
Always keep an eye on your pig in unfamiliar areas and provide enrichment to bored pigs. This will lessen the chances of destruction caused by YOUR pig and hopefully, in turn, reduce your liability in regards to damage that could be caused by your pig. Always do a routine inspection of the area inside and outside of your house to easily identify possible toxins and removal of these potentially hazardous items from your pigs environment. See our blog from last week that discusses bored pig problems and solutions by clicking here.
We’ve just touched on a few of the basic areas where animals impact the law and vice versa, but there are many others. The message here is that, in a legal sense, owning, caring for or even just interacting with animals has become increasingly complicated in recent years. It pays to be aware of the laws and what your risks and rights are depending on your role and always err on the side of caution when it comes to you and your pig. Always know what the laws are in YOUR area, protect your pig.
I am going to write an introduction post because I never did when I started this page. This page was started because I was sick of seeing people purchase or obtain pigs who were clueless. Period. No knowledge of how to care for a pig, unable to have one where they live, no vet to take care of one....extremely frustrating. I started a FB group more than 2 years ago and at first it was relatively small, about 300-400 people who to this day remain pretty close. We love potbelly pigs. I love it, I can post as many pictures as I want of my sweet Buttercup and I don't have to hear, "looks like she's ready to be bacon, or look, it's dinner" or similar crude remarks. It's full of caring kind-hearted pig people who genuinely seem to care about one another. I've had the opportunity to meet some in person, others I've spoken to on the phone, some for hours at a time and some are great FB friends. It's nice to be able to message someone and you know they will read your message and get back to you because you've been kind enough to do the same for them.
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.