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.
These are the most common reasons we see with regards to people trying to find their pig a new home. ALL of these things could've been addressed BEFORE these people got a pig. We all know pigs grow, they don't stay teacup sized. A pig that grows much bigger than someone expects is probably the number 1 reason why a pig needs a new home. Unfortunately, it is also the most misrepresented aspect of "mini pigs". They are not mini at all, but this term has become a standard to use in order to distinguish the difference between a farm pig and a smaller breed like potbellied pig. The term itself can be misleading though.
The 2nd most used excuse is aggression. Intact pigs do not make great pets. Matter of fact, pigs can act like straight jerks at times. YOU have to train your pig to be a well mannered pig though. Your pig doesn't know how to act until you teach him/her how to act.
The number 3 place goes to zoning issues. Someone didn't check zoning before they brought a sweet little piglet home and one day they get a notice to remove the pig in 10 days or be faced with citations and/or fines. This usually coincides with a pig reaching about the 6 month-1 year mark, you know, the time when they start being "pig-headed" and slightly disruptive....
NONE of these excuses are good enough to leave your best friend behind. Please know what you are getting yourself in to before you bring a pig home. We have plenty of information, real pictures of real people's pigs that are more realistic than what someone may tell you the size will be. Just know that people will 1. lie, 2. exaggerate, 3. some honestly don't know because they're breeding babies. they have no idea how big these pigs will be at 3-5 years old because their pig is 2 years away from being 3 years old. Practice common sense, there are no healthy pigs under 50 pounds that are considered fully grown or 5 years old. This is debatable, of course, because some will say their pig is healthy, but I don't know that to be the case, sometimes the damage from malnutrition takes a toll on the body and that damage isn't seen for a few years. It is all very subjective. So use your best judgement, but look at the information that is out there. People have been dealing with pigs for 20+ years, rescues are full, there are pages and groups and organizations that have been created to find pigs new homes due to the high number of homes needed. Check with some of the well known organizations to see if they have an adoptable pig available before you pay 1500.00 for the same pig you would be able to adopt for a fraction of the cost.
Adding a porcine family member really boils down to education. If you know what to really expect, you are zoned to have a pig, how to prepare and are ready for a lifetime commitment, then you may make a great pig parent. If any one of those things aren't 100%, then you are likely not ready for a pig yet. Keep researching. Wait until it is the right time. Pigs don't do well with change. They can't be rehomed over and over again. They're sensitive and it is extremely hard on them to be placed in home after home and it isn't fair to do that to an animal because you failed them. Please do your research and be sure you are ready.
Here are some links to get you started.
Realisitc sizes of pigs- Click here.
What having a pet pig is like? Click here
Breeds of pigs- Click here
The "teacup" or "micro" pig MYTH- Click here
Is a pig the right pet for you, right now? Click here
Common myths about pigs- Click here
As a pig lover when I see the words "Help! My pig is sick" on the internet I often cringe on what could come next. What is interesting is that many of the people who are searching for pig health advice on social media don't seem to understand that it is not an appropriate place to diagnosis a pig. So why do pig parents search the internet for advice? Why can searching for a pigs medical advice on the internet be a bad idea? Can one find good advice on the internet? What are tips to consider when looking for information on your pigs health?
Many pig owners will search the internet or groups on Facebook created for pig parents just to obtain basic knowledge or information about an illness that their pig is experiencing. This allows them to be better equipped to ask questions about treatment and diagnostic testing for their pig. I would think that most veterinarians don’t have a problem with pet parents using the internet for this purpose. I personally consider it to be very proactive on a pig owner’s part. This is only an issue when a person receiving this information feels that they are just as knowledgeable, if not more, than the veterinarian. This is simply not the case. Having read about someones else's experience or finding someone more experienced than yourself does not mean that you are an expert. There are vets that see pigs and there are vets that specialize in pigs. There is a HUGE difference between the two. You must understand that during an emergency, if you are taking your pig to a vet that isn't familiar with pigs, there can be a horrible outcome. This is why it is so important to be prepared for anything. Learn as much as you can so you can identify signs of illness early on that can literally be life saving for your pig, but do NOT take someone who you do NOT know, whose credentials you do NOT have, as credible. For all you know, the person giving advice has only had a pig for a few months. (I have seen that happen.) Let me add, in our mini pig info group, we have seen posts made by other pig parents who were concerned about their pigs even AFTER being seen by a vet and after asking additional questions and/or requesting pictures, DEADLY infections have been identified and treated appropriately likely saving a pigs life. So, it is bitter sweet to say the least. Not everyone is an expert, not everyone understands medical terminology, not everyone understands pigs to be honest. You combine those 3 things and it can be quite dangerous.
This is probably one of the most common causes for seeking advice on the internet. It is Murphy’s law that when a pig is sick, it is usually at the most inconvenient time. Typically, it is at a time when there is financial distress and often at a time when there is little money available for a veterinarian. This can lead to a desperate search for answers for a quick and inexpensive treatment. This causes a search for a home remedy to save money and fix everything. There isn't a home remedy that can treat a bacterial infection. When your pig has a fever of 104 and is off feed, medical care is needed, not oils and a prayer. What you may not know is that time spent online getting advice from strangers can actually cost your pig its life. Some illnesses have an acute phase that requires treatment to be given within a particular time frame and if that is not done, or you decide that a home remedy would be best instead of taking your pig to the vet, your pig may die as a result.
I do understand everyone has their own budget and financial issues, but these are costs you need to consider and have a plan in place BEFORE you have an emergency. Apply for a care credit card, this is a credit card accepted by many veterinary practices. Have a pig account where you're taking 10.00 or 20.00 every payday and setting it aside in case your pig does have an issue and needs some kind of specialized care later on down the line. Some vet practices will allow you to make payments too. All of this will be dependent on your relationship with your vet.Your previous financial issues are not your pigs fault, so your should should not have to suffer because of your lack of money management skills. You should have an established relationship with a veterinarian, someone who knows you and your pig, a person who knows illnesses and disease in your region, and one that sees pigs preferably one who specializes in them. If you do not have a vet, please find one ASAP. Check out our vet map by clicking here. However, because it is understood that emergencies happen at the worst moments ever, Mo Money For Pigs was created and established to help pigs in need so no pig was ever left behind. MMFP is a 501c3 nonprofit charity that raises money to help families with unexpected emergencies when they're unable to pay these vet bills. The pig community has been very generous in the past by donating to people they don't even know when they have unusual circumstances and enormous vet bills, just so that money isn't prohibiting a pig from getting the vet care a pig needs.
Seeking another opinion
The difference in an experienced pig vet versus a vet that will see pigs can literally be the difference between life and death. We mentioned this earlier in the blog. Treatment does always work the same in all animals, even the same species. This can be frustrating for veterinarians and pig owners alike. Frustration can lead pig parents to seek information from another source. Often the source ends up being the internet. Sometimes pig parents may also seek another alternative if there are concerns about potential side effects or expense of a specific treatment as well. The medical expenses can sometimes be overwhelming for animals like mini pigs because they're often considered "exotic" and we all know "exotic" means it will likely cost more money. This is why it is so important to establish a relationship with a veterinarian that has a basic understanding of pigs, but preferably one who is very knowledgable about them. If they do not have an extensive background in pigs, ask them if they have a colleague that does, perhaps they can call someone at one of the well known clinics such as UT (University of Tennessee) which can give your vet the confidence he/she needs to address your pigs health issue appropriately. There are actually several vets that will consult via the phone. We are working on a list of those vets willing to coach another vet now. That list will be added to our vet page as a willing consultant vet.
Is searching online or in Facebook groups for medical advice for your pig a good idea?
There are multiple factors that affect the answer to this question. There have been illnesses that have been identified and successfully treated because someone posted about their experience with their vet in these Facebook groups-by people in the group. Veterinarians aren't perfect, they cannot possibly know every disease for every species and breed of animal and because pigs are not the most common household pet, it is possible for your pig to be misdiagnosed. This is why you should know what diseases are most common and have the ability to identify the onset early on so treatment can be initiated sooner rather than later. We created a whole section on our website dedicated to educating pig parents about common and even not so common illnesses and diseases that can affect pigs. We included some that aren't common in the United States, but could be for another country since we have followers from all over the world. You can go to that section by clicking here. The problem is, the information isn't always "exciting" to read. It wasn't exciting to write either, but it was more important to have it available to anyone who needed it. It is always good to know "too much" rather than not enough. That isn't to say you should question your vets every move, but it should be expected that you have questions. Most veterinarians do not mind answering your questions and they typically have that same desire to educate that we do.
Recently there was someone with a sick pig that took their pig to the vet and their pig received a shot of "long-lasting antibiotics" and the vet planned to return to give another shot in a few days, but she wasn't sure about the rash the pig had and would check to see if it was worse, better or the same in a few days when she returned. The pig's mother posted about her pig and included pictures of the "rash". Those with experience were quickly able to identify the classic erysipelas lesions and alerted the pigs mama so she could properly treat her pig. This intervention likely saved her pigs life. Had she not posted and included pictures but waited for her vet to return days later? Her pig most likely wouldn't have survived. This is one example when posting on Facebook can be helpful.
Last month, we received a private message from one of our followers who said that her pig had some hoof deformities and she had messaged another page, included a picture and the immediate response was simply "that pig needs to be put down". That is HORRIBLE! I asked her some questions like how old he was, how long he's had this deformity, how does he do day to day now, what is his quality of life, does it seem to bother him, etc. Come to find out, this pig was older and had been living with this deformity his whole life. Someone who doesn't ask questions and simply replies without having ALL the information because they failed to ask about situations or circumstances, shouldn't be giving advice to anyone. I do not know who originally gave this woman advice about her pig, but had they asked a few key questions, they would've known that she was simply asking a hoof question and not whether or not her pig should be euthanized. What a horrifying experience for her. But that is exactly my point.
You do not always know who is giving advice nor their experience/credentials. Some people think they are much smarter than they actually are. Google University degrees are not sufficient in these cases. There are times when the ONLY advice ANYONE could give is to IMMEDIATELY take the pig to the vet. That is the problem though. Some people would rather stroke their ego than admit they do not know the answer. That is awful, but that is how some people are.
Consider the source
With the internet being an open source, anybody can give pet health advice on the internet, even people who have no health or veterinary experience at all. So considering the source is very important when trying to discern good advice from bad. Beware of websites that bash veterinarians or claim to know more than your veterinarian would. These “vendetta” websites are those sites that are created by people who either had a bad experience with a veterinarian, organization or a specific drug or any combination of those things. As a result, they may exaggerate their experience and/or claim to be veterinary professionals. These websites often offer advice with the goal to discredit veterinarians or others versus to help pigs.
Websites that sell treatments or so-called cures for specific deadly diseases are dangerous as well. These websites often feed on a pet owner’s desperation by offering a cure for a disease that is not sanctioned by a veterinarian. Buyer beware. There are not many websites like this that target the pig community, but as the popularity of pigs as pets continues to grow, I am sure someone will eventually target the pig community with these type of products.
People who have limited to no experience with veterinary medicine at all can be guilty of giving bad advice. Don’t get me wrong there are pig parents who are able to share great pig health advice from experience gained from their previous pig’s illness. But there are pig people who claim they are pig health experts because they have several pigs regardless of their lack of veterinary experience or health care related fields. As a result, there is often bad advice given and because the person seeking the advice is often desperate, before someone who may have more experience can intervene, the bad advice was implemented and there may be life altering results. Someone's pig may die because there are people who "know it all" and cannot learn anything.
The person you are chatting with online may not be as smart as he/she thinks they are. That person may not be as knowledgable as you think they are, matter of fact, they might not even be who they claim they are, much less know anything about pigs other than they're cute. Before taking advice from someone you do not know, please do your research. Know who you're chatting with, know their experience, know that the advice you're getting will not do more harm than good. Any decent person will know their limitations and will say "I don't know"...they may throw out some ideas, but ultimately, their suggestion will likely be to call your vet. That is what people, who know their limitations, will suggest.
Our website is a general guide that people can choose to or choose not to follow, but it has never been intended to replace your veterinarian's advice. We have suggestions on just about every page for one thing or another and believe me, we get many many private messages on the Mini Pig Info Facebook page, posted to the page, by personal message to one or more admin of the page and/or by email, sometimes even by phone or text. We try to help as many people as possible, but there are times when a vet is the ONLY person that should be giving advice...people who message us for help seem to understand that. If there is something going on that we are able to give advice, then we do. We have a lot of experience to offer on our team and we are extremely grateful for that because it gives us the ability, for at least one of us, to have had experience with some of the more unusual situations; thus being able to give some sound advice for just about anything. However, when there is a question or concern that needs to be addressed by a licensed professional, we refer them to their vet. That is what responsible people do.
Consider the knowledge of the pig parent doing the search
Yes you, as a pig parent, have to consider what knowledge, or lack of, when researching information online. While it is not expected that every pig parent will have the same amount of knowledge when it comes their pig’s health, they should be able to know when the information they are reading isn't understood. Reason being is that it will affect how you comprehend the information that you are looking for. Some information that is sought has to be considered in context. When information is taken from articles and rewritten, there are times when key points are not included which ultimately change the whole dynamic of the information posted online. Unfortunately, it can be easy to misinterpret even the most reliable information. People are extremists and will sometimes go overboard with advice that is given. Some think they know more than truly experienced people within the pig community and their pig suffers as a result. As a pig parent, you should be familiar or at least aware, of the more common diseases and illnesses that can affect pigs. As mentioned above, knowing how to identify some of these life threatening diseases and understanding that time is not on your side should prompt you to take your pig to the vet immediately and this can literally save your pigs life.
If you are seeking advice online and people are suggesting that you take your pig to the vet and you fail to do so, you can expect people to be outraged, especially days later when your pig continues to have the same medical problem, yet you have failed to listen to the advice that was originally given to you. I think that is great that so many seasoned pig people are willing and available to answer questions, but sometimes, there is only so much anyone can do to help your pig. Some pigs need a hands on examination, sometimes surgery and/or medications that cannot be purchased at a local store. It is truly sad when people do not take their pig to their veterinarian and the pig suffers or even dies as a result. What is even sometimes more frustrating is people who will make a post that they're having an emergency, do not give many details and then disappear for hours without responding to the questions people have asked to help them. If your pig is having a true emergency, do NOT waste precious time posting to Facebook, TAKE YOUR PIG TO THE VET! If you are waiting for a call back or are on the way to your vet and you want some opinions on what may be going on, fine, make a post and ask. But, do NOT try to avoid a veterinarian visit altogether if that is the most appropriate and best treatment.
Consider the pig and their particular symptoms
My biggest pet peeve when reading advice is when people make the assumption that all pets are somehow the same. Pigs are NOT dogs, therefore what works for a dog isn't the best treatment for a pig. All pets are not the same! I will repeat all pets are not the same! Unfortunately, most bad advice is based on this premise. People will talk about a treatment that worked great for their pig and assume it will work great for every other pig. You also have the contrary where a pig will have a bad experience with one type of treatment or medication, therefore people post warnings for all pig parents to beware. Why is this significant? If all pigs were the same, it definitely would make a veterinarian's job much easier. Because one pig parent had a bad experience with a particular medication or treatment doesn't mean ALL pigs will.
Another issue is when people do come to the page or make a post in our group is that super important details are omitted. Use our heath form, this was created for situations so that ALL symptoms would be listed. This will help your vet too, especially in prioritizing. If you call your vet and say your pig looks weak, but fail to mention that your pig has blood in the poop, your vet may not think your situation is as urgent as it really is. If you cannot find a vet or your vet isn't available and as a last resort, you are looking for ANY help in these pig groups, please be very detail oriented. Even when questions are asked, important details still do not surface until hours, sometimes days later. ALL the details matter. You may not realize it, but someone experienced will.
I can tell you, based on my experience, it is quite the opposite. When addressing illnesses in pigs, veterinarians have to consider many factors prior to getting to a treatment plan or even a diagnosis. Some of these factors include the age and size of the pig. Other factors to consider are....any previous history of illnesses, previous medical history and preventative care, exposure to other pigs/animals, any current medications, or any risk of exposure to toxins. Pigs have some diseases and illnesses that only affect pigs and if a veterinarian has limited experience with pigs, it may be more difficult for them to come to a conclusive and accurate diagnosis. These factors are why all pigs are not the same. With bad advice, these factors are not considered at all.
I recently heard of a pig that passed away because the symptoms the pig was having weren't taken seriously in addition to terrible advice given by someone else. I do not know where this took place, but apparently a pig was suffering from water deprivation and someone was insistent that milk would solve the problem. Milk? Really? As I said in the beginning of this short story, that pig passed away. Bad advice like that can kill your pig. Do not listen to just anyone because that person may be new to pigs too and that google university degree won't go far when push comes to shove. You cannot base advice on only one symptom. The whole situation needs to be addressed because normally there is more than one thing that has contributed to the sickness and for certain illnesses, there are protocols that need to be followed to safely treat your pig.
Researching information about pigs is encouraged. Learn as much as possible so you can identify an illness in its early stages so treatment can be started sooner; all these things increase your pigs chance of survival. When it comes to seeking advice about your pigs’s health, I recommend seeking your veterinarian first. If your veterinarian is not available for whatever reason, it is suggested that you seek advice from another veterinarian which may include an emergency veterinarian if it is after hours. What people need to realize about online advice is....
Please be responsible and take your obligation to your pig seriously. Have a vet, have a back up vet and an emergency vet, a mobile vet, know where the closest university vet teaching hospital is and some money set aside for emergencies. Do not expect social media to be your primary caregiver because you may take advice from someone who doesn't know what they're talking about and your pig may die as a result. Sickness happens, accidents happen, be prepared as best as you can. Read up on common diseases/illnesses that affect pigs. Know how to identify your pig may be sick so you know when it is appropriate to take your pig to the vet. Use the tools that are available to you such as the health form we have on the website. It is a form you can use should your pig get sick that will help you when you call your vet to discuss your emergency with all the information that he/she will need to let you know what you need to do. Read up on the diseases we have added to the website so you know how to react should your pig shows signs of a particular illness. Use our vet list and/or vet map to find a veterinarian close by to you. More importantly, love your pig enough to get medical care when it is appropriate.
How many times have you heard, "look, it's bacon or ham"?? Original, yeah, right. What other things have you heard???? Maybe some of these statements below?
Q: My favorite question is "I want a pig! Can you get me one of those?!"
A: My response always depends on the person asking. Something along the lines of, "Yep, but first I need you to fill out this 6 page adoption application, then we'll do a phone interview that lasts about 30 minutes and message back and forth for a couple of weeks. Finally, I'll call and grill your vet and probably require you to find a new one for me to interview, then I'll come check out your home and most likely require you to put in $400 worth of fencing. You ready to start the process??
Q: Do you take that "thing" to the vet? And pay money for vet care, for a pig?
A: What is wrong with you, do you not take your obligations seriously??
Q: She’s big, why didn’t you get one of the micro ones?
A: That one always makes me laugh. I didn't get a little one because ALL pigs grow.
Q: Do you feed them pork? Can they eat bacon?
A: Seriously? Did you feed your child a human foot this morning?
Q: OMG, you have a pig living IN your house? They smell or they are dirty.
A: I also let my other children sleep in the house. They're dirty too, plus full of germs after leaving YOUR house.
Q: They eat everything and anything right?
A: Yeah, including ignorant people like you. Obviously pigs can and often do eat anything that they can fit into their mouths, but is it good for them? Uh, no.
Q: Can I hunt him?
A: Can I shoot you with a 12 gauge, in the face?
Statement: You must be fattening that pig up for the oven?!?
Response: Actually, YOU would taste much better than my pig....jerk.
There are so many who stereotype pigs into an inaccurate category of animals that are gross and disgusting....obviously we know better, help educate people by showing them what great animals pigs are....but make sure they know the truths about pigs. They make great companion animals for the RIGHT and educated family.
In an effort to promote pig summer safety, here are some simple steps to help pig parents keep their porcine friends cool. Insurance company claims data shows that heat stroke, dehydration and hyperthermia are common summer health risks for pets. When these hazards send pigs to the vet, they can cause a deep dive into pig parents’ pockets with treatment costs averaging $2,500.00 for heat stroke, $400.00 for dehydration and $900.00 for hyperthermia. (Based on quotes from vet office) Remember, pigs do not sweat, so they literally require an area to cool down. You have to check up on pigs that are outside. They do not know they need to leave their outside enclosure and will sometimes literally sit inside and eventually become too lethargic to get outside.
It can be dangerous when pigs’ body temperatures get just a few degrees above normal. Fortunately, with a little planning and preparation, keeping our hooved friends safe in warm weather can be a breeze. Here are eight easy ways pig parents can help their pigs beat the heat:
Most vets will also stress that pet resting areas should be kept cool, indoors and out. For pigs seeking relief from the hot weather, provide outdoor areas of shade with open-air tents, awnings and umbrellas. Indoor resting places can be kept cool with air conditioners or fans, and by keeping the curtains closed so there is no direct sunlight. Also, bare floors in the house are great spots for pets to lie down and cool off.
If a pig gets overheated, it’s best to aim for a gradual cool down rather than an abrupt immersion in ice or cold water. Try using the hose, a gentle shower or wet towels first. If a pig shows signs of hyperthermia like excessive drooling, a very red tongue or gums, panting, weakness, dizziness or vomiting, take cooling measures immediately and get your pig to the vet ASAP. Have icepacks wrapped in small towels in bed for the pig to lay on if it wants to. (Or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel). Put rubbing alcohol on its feet for evaporative cooling. Use cool, but not cold cloths on head, neck and abdomen. Avoid bathing your pig at this time. If the animal's temperature is over 105 degrees, moisten the pet's hair coat with cool (not COLD) water and pay particular attention to the ears and feet, which are sites of heat exchange. Direct a fan on the moistened areas.
Heat stroke can be fatal within 15 minutes, and even when it isn’t deadly, brain and organ damage can result from exposure to extreme heat.
There has been more than one time when someone shares a picture from an animal shelter and the poor pig is being fed dog food or laying on a concrete floor. How can you reach out to so many animal shelters and tell them how to appropriately care for a pig? It was almost impossible to call each vet and verify that they saw pigs, i couldn't imagine having to call each animal shelter to ask if they know how to appropriately care for one. What people don't realize or maybe take for granted is that these animal shelter workers see discarded animals everyday. They see families bring in their cat, just because they don't want him anymore and drop him off and leave. Maybe the cat ripped the couch, or peed on the floor instead of the litterbox; nonetheless, cats are a lot easier to place than a pig anyways.
Introducing the Mini Pig Info....Shelter Guide. This can be found on the same page as the pig rescues for anyone wishing to download it and send it to their animal control. In order to keep it at a reasonable length, I chose to focus more on placing pigs rather than caring for them although that is also discussed. If you have any ideas on improving it, let us know.
It has been uploaded as a file (above) or a document (below). A preview of the document will show if you're on a desktop computer, but not on a mobile device/phone.
Pigs are great. So great that people will do anything to save one from an otherwise unknown fate....that speaks volumes about any species. Pigs are very special, they have human-like feelings and will cry if their feelings are hurt much like a person would. Pigs don't make the greatest indoor pets though. We all see them glamorized everyday and celebrities getting these little pigs and people excited to get their piglet or waiting anxiously at the airport for their arrival....I often wonder, do they know what they're getting themselves into? Sometimes yes, sometimes (and more often) no. That's sad that people do more research to pick out a television than they do before they get a pet to add to their family. If my tv wasn't everything it was said to be, would I get rid of it? Would I ask someone else to pay for my tv because I no longer had time to watch it? Or would I just let it sit there collecting dust and be obsolete the next time I used it? Well for me personally, I take my obligations seriously, at least now I do. I was once one of those people who ran out and got a pig on a whim with absolutely no research, there was no FB at the time and I knew nothing about pig rescue or how to spot a shady breeder, all I wanted to do was fill the selfish want and did it. I got my pig. It was a disaster from day 1.
I looked online for local people with pigs for sale and found one, about 45 minutes away from me. Stopped by the bank, grabbed some money and was off to buy my piglet. I was told to give him sweet feed and was handed a baggy full of that. He was around a month old and was no longer nursing from his mama. I watched as she "caught" this scared little baby as he ran around a small outside pen, ultimately I was heartbroken watching him fear for his life, but again, my selfish side had to had him. I wrap him up like a baby and drive home holding him in my lap. I get home and he runs away from me....well, he obviously likes to run, he did the same thing at the breeders house. Luckily for me, he won't get any bigger than 45lbs....not nearly as big as this little tiny pigs mama who I saw....she was skinny but a much bigger pig than what I paid for. He has all kinds of open areas, scratching himself on anything he possibly can and as soon as I walk close to him, he takes off. I wonder what I am doing wrong?
Day 2....the baby, we playfully named Porkchop, wouldn't eat dinner last night and now he won't eat breakfast either. I called the breeder who told me sometimes they just take a few days and he will be fine. Don't worry about the open sores, he must've been cut up in his outside enclosure trying to escape. This little baby loves belly rubs, so I am now a self proclaimed expert at making him tip over. My kids have met him, he will now come to me, especially if I have human food....guess it's true, the way to any mans heart is food.
Day 3....what have I gotten myself into? This dang pig is peeing everywhere, he finds a spot and just pees, he doesn't go in a litterbox like I was told and my carpet is starting to smell like someone may have died in my house. (I did invest in a carpet cleaning machine by day 3) still no eating....refuses to eat this mixture of stuff that was given to me. So I made him some human food. Oatmeal to be exact, and I added in some vanilla yogurt just to be sure he was getting enough to eat. Yay! He loves it and is eating that mixture twice a day. (I go out and buy all the instant oatmeal I can find)
Day 4....he is still scratching himself on anything he can find and now I am all itchy....my kids are complaining that their arms are itchy occasionally too....he loves the food, so finally we've done something right....whew. He's warming up a little to us now. He will now willingly come to me, usually it's because I'm eating something and he wants a bite. He does this really cute thing where he picks up my feet as I'm making his food....like telling me to hurry up. We video it and laugh and laugh showing all our friends and neighbors our cute little porkchop.
Day 5....nothing eventful, he's still a playful little fella, stinky urine, but now we've closed in a spot in our back yard so we can take him out. We have to carry him because the area we made a makeshift pen isn't right outside the back door. Luckily our neighbor has a dog and can keep an eye on little porkchop. We never leave him out though alone, scared someone would come steal him. Everyone just loves him and loves to come over and watch him pee on the carpet while completely ignoring our calls for him to come to us.
Day 6....this is where it starts to get interesting. Porkchop is still playful and still has a lot of open sores, so I call a vet and the sweet man on the phone says they'll actually come to my house if I need them to....porkchop is small enough, so I make an appointment for later that afternoon and take him in. Well, good and bad news. Good news is that his sores are due to the fact he has mites....better news is that there is medicine that can treat that and he won't have them anymore. Bad news is now I have to go to my MD and let him know that I have a pet pig and he was diagnosed with mites and now me and my family need to be treated for scabies....SCABIES! I was humiliated to call and make an appointment. I am in the medical field, so I know whatever treatment you get is now a part of your permanent medical record and now I will look like some dirty person with nasty kids who has a dirty house and doesn't keep things clean....luckily for me, my primary care physicians first degree was actually animal science....he was a vet before he transitioned to human medicine. Not only did he understand and sympathize with my situation, but now he wants me to bring porkchop to the office to meet him and his staff. How fun is that? (After we've all recovered from our "illness" of course) Later on I do find out that these mites won't actually live on people, but can cause some itchiness for a few days, as i said it was later, like 5 years later I found this out, but nonetheless, lesson learned. (Me or my family never had scabies, but, scabies are a mite, just not the same mite that pigs get. We would've gotten better with or without treatment because they wouldn't have been able to reproduce and would die off, we sorta jumped the gun as far as going to the doctor was concerned.)
Let's fast forward to around day 14....now porkchop is acting right, he's eating his oatmeal and yogurt, every single bite of it and has been for a couple of weeks now, but now he isn't walking right, he's falling down and unable to get up. Immediately called my vet. He rushes over to my house and spends the next 3 hours educating me on pigs. When I say I knew nothing, I literally mean nothing. I've had a pet pig for 2 weeks now and have no idea what I've gotten myself into. Well after he consults with a vet from another state, he believes he now knows what is wrong with my baby. He is basically malnourished. He isn't getting the vitamins he needs from oatmeal and yogurt. Duh. He needs pig food. He doesn't know exactly where I can get it, but I should check online. So I do. And I find a little mom and pop shop about 40 minutes away and they have a bag of pig feed. Thank God! After he gets done with the question/answer seminar he had no idea he was entering, I rush out and buy pig food.
Day 18....I am doing everything short of cramming this pig feed down this pigs mouth to get him to eat it. He is not a fan, but I found that wetting it and mixing it in with his oatmeal and yogurt seems to do the trick. I am feeding him as much as he will eat. I can see his strength is getting better and his endurance is also improving. Awesome.
Day 21....porkchop is running! I have tears in my eyes as I watch my baby run through the yard, making an odd barking noise, I take a video and send it to everyone who has been texting me to check and see if he's doing any better. Looks like we are finally on the right track....
Skipping to day 45....porkchop is a hog for real. His weight exploded as he's been eating so much....it's cute how he begs for food while we eat. He used to be able to fit under the dining room chairs, but now he's way to big to do that. He loves playing with our chihuahuas though, they run and chase after eachother....the dogs don't like it when porkchop tries to eat their food though, but otherwise, porkchop isn't much different than them. He's not the friendliest animal we've ever had, but if he wants a belly rub, he will literally fall down beside you so he's in a better spot for you to be able to accommodate him. Needless to say, what was cute at 20lbs was no longer cute at his size now. He was able to bully us into giving him food, he would bite if you didn't comply with what he wanted. He would turn chairs over and move furniture routinely. We started calling this poltergeisting....(definition of poltergeisting: when your furniture moves around "on its' own" when it is close to meal time for pigs.)
Moving on to about the 3rd month, his urine is really stinky. My vet suggested that I have him neutered and that will help not only with the awful smelling urine, but also with the humping. This pig will mount anything he can jump up on. The kids, chairs, my bedspread that fell on the floor, his favorite was a stuffed animal dolphin. Guess he's not that selective. LOL. Because I am in the medical field, I know how hormones work. I know diferent hormones are secreted and perform different functions in the body...so I know having him neutered will help with that. I will say, this pig is nothing like the cute baby we first got, he is nothing like a dog, he LOVES to eat and that's about it. He's not very loving, but he loves to be outside.....the makeshift pen we originally made him is useless now, he just lifts up the cheap fencing we put down and wanders around the back yard. (We have a moderately good sized yard, a couple of acres, only a small part has been cleared and we lived on a fairly busy road, directly behind us is the interstate, and a major one at that, interstate 64) so he enjoys feasting on his finds in the backyard, mostly acorns and crab apples that have fallen from the tree....and mounting anything that doesn't move out of his way. But overall, we love him very much and will make whatever changes are necessary to make it work. His neuter appointment is approaching fast, but he needs some vaccinations and a routine check up beforehand, so he has an appointment to be checked out later this week.
A couple of days later.....we arrive at the vet. Porkchop is now too big to ride shotgun and is limited to the back seat of my BMW. Naturally he poops everywhere and the seats are heated and cooled, so now there is the overwhelming poop smell whenever I open the doors. Ugh gross. The vet is preparing for porkchops neuter next week and gives him a tetnus shot, rabies (although used off label) and a couple of other shots to prevent common illnesses in pigs. My vet is a doctor of animal medicine, so I trust him, he knows what he's doing. The following morning the blood work came back and porkchop has a problem with his liver. Worse news ever. Neuter is on hold until we can figure out what is wrong with him. He's eating good, gained about 60lbs over the last couple of months, has the cutest fattest cheeks you've ever seen. Walking fine, everything else looks good. Only now his urine not only stinks, but it's also kind of a brown color. The vet is coming to my house tomorrow, so he will check him out then.
The next day, the vet comes back to my house to draw some additional blood work. Porkchop isn't what you would call a pig that's interested in what you want to do, porkchop is more like the king of the house. So the vet didn't really have a lot of luck holding him down and trying to draw blood. Porkchop was a bit of a biter too. He hated water, wouldn't let you near his mouth or eyes. So he always looked dirty, but again, we loved this pig so much, we didn't care. While the vet was there, he watched Porkchop is his own surroundings and watched him go through the XXXL dog door we had installed for him and right out to the oak trees....them the vet called his consultant friend and came back to me and said, he can't eat acorns. Acorns will make him fat and sick. When eaten in limitless amounts like he's doing, they can be bad on the liver. so, elevated liver enzymes combined with the brown colored urine is all a result of him eating acorns? Really??
Fast forward to the weekend....I had a fence building party with my friends. I bought all the supplies and had some of my friends come over and help me build a fence...a fenced in area that didn't include the area where the acorns were. They were about ankle deep at this point, one big giant acorn tree was to the left of the property, so we were going to try our best at sectioning off a part of the yard that still gave him room to play and run, while keeping him out of the acorns.
By the next weekend, we had it done. Took much longer than we thought and it costed a lot more money than I had anticipated too. Another two weeks go by and his urine is now clear again, still stinks but clear. The vet feels like it is safe to neuter now and draws one more set of blood work. Liver tests come back ok, the liver enzymes have decreased and are back within a normal range. Woohoo! We are around 5 months now and Porkchop is finally being neutered.
On the day of his neuter, the vet tech wasn't available, so my vet asked me if I wanted to scrub in. SUPER EXCITING!! I had scrubbed in many surgeries and was very familiar with sterility and how general surgeries went. I really didn't assist in much, they had a wooden box they made for pigs that they used for neuters that put them in an anatomically correct position for the neuter. Porkchop was fat and didn't fit in it like others would, so I held his head (which got very heavy near that end) and handed instruments to the surgeon....By this point, we had built a litterbox that was as long as him, in the front we had a section for his food and water because I've noticed that he pees when he's drinking. At one point, it was funny....it's not funny anymore. The carpet in his room has to be ripped up and replaced with tile. It was our laundry room, but a good sized room, actually bigger than my daughters bedroom to be honest.
Porkchop was the talk of the town. We are the ONLY ones who have a pig around my area. He's still not very friendly and will bite you if you try to remove the crust from his eyes, he's had a couple of baths, but as soon as I try to clean his face, he bites and his teeth are sharp and it hurts. I'm slightly scared of him and I think he knows it.
6 months after getting Porkchop....the mounting of objects has stopped. He still pees whenever he wants, but he is only allowed in the main house when we are home or can watch him. He's a destructive guy, he's eaten part of the wall in his room, he's broken the baby gate that separates his room from the kitchen. He's learned that cabinets contain food, so now all the cabinets have childproof locks. I remodeled my kitchen (and by remodel, I mean that I gutted it down to the 2x4's and completely redid it, new everything, cabinets, appliances, even new Sheetrock.) Now my brand new stainless steel refrigerator that I haven't even finished paying for has holes drilled in it because this A-hole pig keeps breaking into it and eating everything in site. We mainly laugh at it and try our best to control it.
6 months and a couple of days....our house was broken into not long before we got Porkchop, so I had an alarm installed. We were close to the city, but considered agriculturally zoned, why someone would want to break into my house was beyond me, but I wanted to make sure we were safe. One day while I was working, the alarm people called and the house alarm was going off. Here we go again, my main thought was praying Porkchop was ok. The kids were at school and I didn't have anything anyone would want, but my house was accessible while hidden from the main road, so it was an easy target. My job requires I travel a lot locally, so I was there before the police. Thank God I had an alarm and the house alarm started blasting and I could only imagine that poor Porkchop was scared to death or worse, gone. I am one of those people who believe in the right to carry a firearm and having a concealed weapons permit allows me to carry a gun in my vehicle, so I grabbed my gun and proceeded to go inside the house. I called the police back and let them know I went ahead inside even though they told me not to, but honestly, I was more concerned with my pig and his well-being than anything else. What if they hurt him, what if someone broke in to steal him (they would've brought him back I'm sure) but a million things were racing through my head. Embarrassingly enough, Porkchop was the one who set off the alarm and the police were in route. When I walked in, all I saw was a mess. Even more embarrassing was letting the police come in to verify that yes, there really was a pig there that triggered the alarm and see the HUGE mess he made. When they called dispatch to clear the call, they stated there was a pig in the house, the dispatch chuckled and said we know you're there and they proceeded to laugh and explain they meant a "real pig".... now everyone wanted a picture with big ole Porkchop and luckily, he was full from everything he had eaten and just laid there and allowed them all to touch all over him and take pictures laying beside him. Good times. We cleaned until almost midnight that night, that dang pig had literally pulled everything out of the cabinets, breaking one in the process, tore all the labels from all the cans, so I had no idea what was in any of the cans...we later used that as a game of what are we having with dinner tonight? Could be peaches, could be peas....
8 months...we've settled in with Porkchop and he really is the boss of us all. He loves one of our chihuahuas and they sleep beside eachother every night. They tolerate eachother well, (although it is extremely dangerous to put dogs and pigs together and I don't recommend anyone try their luck at that) Porkchop is well over 100lbs at this point and still growing. But all in all, were doing good. The vet has become number one on my speed dial. If Porkchop has a runny nose, I called the vet, if Porkchop wasn't acting right, I called the vet. He's visited my house so much, that now he knows where the hidden key is, the alarm password and doesn't even mandate that I be home for him to come see Porkchop. He is very familiar with him and doesn't usually need to actually lay eyes on him now. I will share a couple of things I called the urgently on and now I feel foolish, but all in all, it made me the person I am today. Once I called them because he had holes in his legs....both front legs. I couldn't believe it, he must have some parasite or gotten into something and now has a flesh eating bacteria. The vet looked it over and agreed he had multiple abscesses and gave me an antibiotic spray and suggested that I clean them daily and keep the ointment and spray on the actual wounds until they've healed. (This was one of the other vets in the practice, not my usual vet who was away on vacation) needless to say, when he returned and saw I had been in the clinic and saw that my pig was diagnosed with some mysterious flesh eating infection, he made a call to his pig vet friend and found the holes in both front legs are simply scent glands and they're not abscesses and no treatment is needed at all...matter of fact, he suggested that I leave them alone period. Another time I called them. Porkchop was squealing and seemed to be in excruciating pain, he wasn't able to walk without falling down and I just knew there was a serious problem, my vet came out and said I don't think we're equipped to deal with this, you may need to take him to a specialist. The specialist was about 5 hours away, in another state. So again, he called his friend who was a pig vet and she suggested that it may be dippity pig syndrome...what?!? Now my pig has have rare genetic disorder, I've already spent an enormous amount of money on vet bills, I don't know what I'm going to do now. So he and I look up that disorder and are relieved to know it's short lived, not life threatening and Porkchop will make a full recovery. And again, she was right....he did experience this several more times throughout his short little life, but now, I felt like the dippity pig expert. By this point in me and my vets relationship, I had done extensive research about pigs and was no longer leaning on them for every little thing, he knew if I called, there was truly an emergency. He actually started having other people that were interested in getting a pet pig call me first so they would know what to expect. I was no expert, and although I hadn't been a pig mama for long, I had a lot to offer.
9 months....this pig is huge! 125lbs now and only 9 months old. Wow. And he wasn't supposed to be any bigger than a beagle. Hahaha. Biggest joke ever. Anyways, moving along, Porkchop was having some difficulty urinating. Again, because I am in the medical field, I notice subtle things. I have noticed that he hasn't peed in the last 8 hours....gave him more water, perhaps he's dehydrated....no pee. I call my vet, he is alittle concerned about a possible bladder rupture, porkchops belly is rigid and not soft and squishy like it usually is. Now, to add insult to injury, he is hunching over and trying to poop and nothing. Nothing is coming out, he acts fine though, doesn't seem like there's an obstruction, he doesn't seem to be in pain and the vet is already on his way. Well, he was on his way and had another emergency that trumped mine, so since Porkchop wasn't in a life threatening situation, he will come by later. I watch this poor pig try and try to poop and pee and nothing ever comes out. I put on some gloves and use Vaseline to make sure he's not impacted, I get a few balls of poop out, but clearly his bowels aren't functioning correctly, it's just not coming out for whatever reason. The vet arrives and I can see he is really concerned. He walks back to his truck and calls his friend and tells me, well, we are definitely not equipped to deal with this. We don't have the surgical equipment needed, we don't have the right anesthesia or monitoring equipment for Porkchop. I can send you to a specialist or I can euthanize him. He explained that some people didn't want to waste their money on their pigs, some people just didn't have it to spend and some people felt like that was the most humane thing to do....I explained that he knew me better than to ever suggest euthanizing Porkchop and that I would get a second mortgage on my house before I would let anything happen to my baby. This was around 1pm that day. He gave me the address and name of a clinic one state over in North Carolina. They were potbelly pig specialists and would be able to help him. That's all I wanted, for him to have a place to go to get better or have surgery, whatever was necessary to make him better. Porkchop hadn't been in the car very much since he was a baby, and the times he was put in the car, he was given shots or had blood drawn or lost his manhood, so, my little BMW was not a place he wanted to be. An hour later after chasing him around the yard, I finally muster up all the strength I have left, wipe my tears and stop at my mamas house to grab her GPS and we are in the way to the specialist. They close at 5 and its a 5 hour trip. I call my work and tell them I've had an emergency and won't be in the next day or and would be taking off the rest of that day. Everyone knows how much I love this pig and I tell them the truth, Porkchop is sick and I'm having to take him to a pig specialist in NC.
Well I can hardly drive because I'm so scared and upset. I don't know what's going on, I don't know how I am going to pay for it, I don't even know how much money is available on my credit cards, I am overwhelmed, I'm super emotional, I call my mom to get the kids off the bus and make sure they were ok and I would keep them updated. Fast forward to 8pm, calls back and forth to the vets office we were headed to, the stupid GPS was apparently set to avoid highways, therefore it took almost 7 hours to get there on all back roads, everyone is calling asking how he's doing, he's still slumped over trying to poop in my backseat, I am still crying and with each turn this stupid GPS is making me do, I can see him getting sicker, causing me to panic even more and by the time we get there, I am an emotional wreck. I have mascara running down my cheeks and I am just a mess. Luckily he has his harness on, but it's going to be a challenge getting him inside the office. They have some men there who are willing to brave the A-hole pig I have and risk being bit and get him out of the car. He willingly walks into the office, much to my surprise. The vet will keep him, they're expecting him to be there for the week. They want 1000.00 up front. On my way to the vet, I called my credit card company and had my limits raised. Thank God I have good credit. They brought him back immediately and started their workup. I was more in the way than I was helpful. I explained what was going on and as much as it broke my heart to leave him there, I had kids I needed to tend to. I paid them, gave my tearful goodbye to Porkchop and made her promise me she would do whatever was necessary to make him well. 5 days later I get the call, let me add, I spoke to the vet at least 4x a day and the vet techs multiple times to check on him, it wasn't feasible for me to stay in a hotel 5 hours away, I have to work and I have kids who need their mama....but, we get the call that Porkchop is ready to go home!!! BEST NEWS EVER! I take off of work, borrow my brother’s SUV, keep the kids home from school and we make the drive back to pick him up. Longest drive ever. Haha.
We were excited, it was 3 days before Halloween and the radio was playing the monster mash and thriller back to back...I still have a hard time when I hear those songs even though this all happened many years ago, but at the time, we were singing and dancing and super excited to see him. It's been 9 months since we've had a hoof free house and we missed the messes, missed the loud squealing to let us know it was time to eat, we even missed the head swipes when he was a jerk. Most of all, I missed laying on the floor and having 125lbs of pig slide down to lay right beside me making sure something of his was always touching me. He was a jerk, but he was our jerk. We pull up to the vets office, I eagerly run in and expect to see him waiting for us, but he's not. They point me in he direction of the stalls that are outside, now I'm more pissed than anything else. It's October, it's cold outside and you've kept my pig outside? Seriously!? I was irritated when the vet was explaining things to me and focused in on the fact that my indoor pig was kept outside for 5 nights...but I heard the magic words, he's all better and he's peeing and pooping. I don't know how they knew that because the stall was nothing but a giant litterbox, full of wood shavings and straw, but they were the experts. He was so happy to see us, grunted with excitement and more vocal than I've ever heard him be. He was running around the horse stall and running up to me letting me pet him and running away and running back. He was acting like a little piglet again. I expressed some concern over his belly still feeling rigid and not soft and squishy like it usually was, but she assured me that he was fine.
So, we started on the looooong trip home. We stop about half way to use the bathroom, he stood the entire trip, wouldn't lay down or even sit. By the time we pulled up in our driveway. He was vomiting, poor thing must be carsick, but luckily we are home and he's here with us....I am so tired and emotionally drained and it's obvious that he is exhausted as well, we laid right on the floor in his room and fell asleep. I woke up 2 hours later and Porkchop woke up soon afterwards and my baby was literally struggling to breathe. I don't know what happened, but he can't catch his breath. I called my vet and he rushed over. I called my mom and asked her to come get the kids because they didn't need to see this. I knew we were in big trouble. They're crying, I'm crying, I'm panicked, Porkchop was getting worse by the minute. He is struggling for every single breath.
My vet arrives and it's not good. Porkchop is in full blown heart failure. He grew so big so quick, his little heart wasn't able to keep up with the demands and his belly was full of fluid. My vet called the pig specialist and cussed her out, I heard the entire conversation although he was a true professional and stepped outside to speak to her. I heard him say, you had no business sending this pig home in this condition, now this pig can't be saved. So, 3800.00 later and a borrowed car, several days off work, kids missing school, all the worrying and heartache came to a close when I heard that statement. He couldn't survive the trip back to NC to the specialist, and I wouldn't have EVER took him back there anyways, but he couldn't even survive the 30 minute drive to my vets office for an emergency paracenthesis. Porkchop was suffering, drowning in the fluid that has been accumulating in his belly and there was literally nothing that could be done to save his life at that point. I've never been more heartbroken over anything in my entire life. I've lost family members that didn't hit me as hard as losing that pig. Porkchop was my world and now I had to say goodbye to my best friend. That was literally the hardest thing I have ever had to do up until now. This pig was a part of our family, a sibling to the kids and one of my children. I had to know why!?
We did a necropsy there on the floor in my laundry room because I had to know what happened. His belly was so full of fluid that I am surprised he didn't just pop. He hadn't gone to the bathroom, all the fluids he had for a few days had collected there, eventually the fluids reached his lungs and caused flash pulmonary edema and there was no recovering from that, only to stop the suffering. The pressure on the lungs ability to expand was compromised due to the fluid accumulation. That was enough to cause breathing difficulties, but with the fluid filling up in his lungs, he couldn't breathe. Part of the untimely death was a result of a congenital heart defect, but part of this was my fault too, had I educated myself to begin with, I would've known the proper diet and known acorns were bad, I would've know about scent glands and dippity pig syndrome, I would've known about mites and appropriate treatments. I would've had a vet that was equipped to deal with an emergency close to home with operating capabilities, I would have had a vet that was familiar with pigs and didn't need to constantly call his friend to consult. And I would've known better than to let someone ignore my gut instinct that something was wrong. I am a much wiser person because of this experience, I've rescued since then and fostered and socialized pig until they found permanent homes, but it was a long time before we were ready to open our hearts to another pet pig. We now have Buttercup, she is our world much like Porkchop was....I write all of this to share an experience, share what I learned from it....please do your research, please make sure you have a vet that knows pigs, please have an emergency plan....prepare for the worse and hope you never have to access those plans, but make sure you're prepared. There weren't FB groups then, there weren't any vets that would advise me online how to treat something, there were no group files, there wasn't even anyone else I knew who had a pig, so we literally learned as we went. My vet was great, although not a pig vet, they were willing to learn with me and put up with my constant calls and questions and because of my situation and Porkchop, they too, learned a great deal about pigs and how to care for them.
Since then, I've been fortunate enough to have met some great people in the pig world, I've met some less than stellar people too, but overall, my experience has been a positive one. I am a proud pig mama and eager to learn every chance I get. I look for opportunities to learn and I also look for opportunities to educate. I don't ever want anyone to feel as alone and helpless as I did during that time....nowadays, there is an audience for pretty much anything you want to say and that's awesome, I wish these kinds of pages and groups would've been around back then that are available now on Facebook and other forums, maybe things would've been different, maybe not. I'll never know. But I do know Porkchop is waiting for me with some of the other pigs that were taken too soon and I'll see him again, in the meantime, I will move forward and try to educate as many as I can and I will continue to research and learn. There are so many smart people out there and I am grateful for each and every person who has encouraged me or supported my stance or views on things and those who didn't, I admire them too, they made me think outside the box and see things from different angles, all in all, this made me the person I am today and a true pig advocate.
This situation encouraged me to learn more about pigs, caused me to research EVERYTHING and although my experience as a human nurse has absolutely helped me in pig world, it does not make me an expert or a veterinarian or even part of the animal science field. What it does do is make me way more proactive at telling people what happened to me and ultimately my pig because of MY ignorance. It has made me a better person, a much better piggy mama and also the reason this website was created. (With the help of friends, of course)
I told my story because I think it's important, I don't want sympathy, I also don't want rude comments, I know the mistakes I made, I'm sharing because there may be someone else out there experiencing exactly the same scenario and maybe this would be helpful to them, maybe not, but sharing stories and experiences is how we all learn. Nobody can tell me anything that I haven't already told myself, no one can make me feel worse than I felt that day. I will rehash the events and try to figure out if I had done this or done that, would his life had been spared- until the day I die. Porkchop took his last breath on 10/28/08. It was the end of his life and the beginning of my mission to learn, research, educate and advocate for pigs. This is one of the situations that I refer to as "life-altering" and one that taught me a huge life lesson, one of those experiences that will remain with you until the end of time. Rest assured that I am not the only person to ever get a pig that made mistakes, and I won't be the last either. They say experience is the best teacher, I hate what happened, but openly chose to make it publicly known what had happened so others could learn from my mistakes. Our dog, Tico passed away shortly after he did, I presume from a broken heart (they really were the very best of friends, I know dogs and pigs aren't ideal or even recommended, but again, this was before I knew all of that)....Rest in paradise sweet boys.
Written by Brittany Sawyer
Press Release from Ranger's Refuge at Gallastar regarding the pig killed by SPCA staff and her boyfriend
A recent news story was brought to our attention and naturally outraged many in the pig community. A pig was found wandering in a neighborhood and a group helped the local animal control catch this pig. The unnamed pig (he has since been named Profit by those who care in the pig community) was taken to the local SPCA in Albemarle County Virginia where he was stolen, tortured and killed by one of their staff members and her boyfriend. There are no excuses that can take that back. There is nothing that can be said to bring that unfortunate pig back to life, but what this can do is remind us how unsafe pigs are at shelters. We don't have to agree with the reasons people are looking to rehome their pig. More times than not, we are not happy with the "reason" because had appropriate screening been done or research, there may be one less homeless pig. So, with that being said, these two thieves stole a PET PIG and killed him for a holiday BBQ. The lack of respect for life stands alone, but the lack of respect for someone else'e pet? It is ok to receive an animal and take it home and kill it? What kind of sociopaths are working at these animal shelters? How often does this actually happen? These people got caught. They're not remorseful, they're upset that they were caught and she was fired. How many pigs have suffered this same fate and it didn't make the news? Probably more than any of us want to know about. Lorelei Pulliam wrote a press release about the situation and we have added our commentary as well as a picture to demonstrate how unsafe pigs are at shelters. If someone is looking for a home for their pig, please don't shame them. Don't comment or share their post. Obviously taking pigs to shelters isn't safe, so help find appropriate homes for these precious pigs. Rescues are full, private homes have already taken on more pigs, NOBODY has room! Keep your promises to your pig like you keep your promise to your children. These pigs are our children, so when you act like you don't care about them and their life is meaningless to you, expect outrage from the rest of us. Trust me, that is exactly what you will get.
The original news story http://www.newsplex.com/content/news/two-people-arrested-for-allegedly-killing-pig, and here is a follow up story with the accused responses to the charges. (Yeah, reading their logic may may you sick to your stomach) How do morally bankrupt individuals justify their actions? ~http://www.newsplex.com/content/news/People-accused-of-stealing-pig-speak-out-
"Aymarie Sutter and Lee Oakes, Jr. are charged with theft, animal cruelty and killing livestock, but they claim they didn't do anything wrong." (quote from their response story)
Although heavily edited, a pig rescue in Virginia did have an opportunity to speak to the news about this situation. http://www.newsplex.com/content/news/local-sanctuary-speaks-out-about-the-torture-and-killing-of-a-pig-at-CASPCA.
Be the voice for these animals that cannot speak for themselves! This is NOT ok.
Members of the Virginia Alliance of Mini Pig Rescuers in the Charlottesville Albemarle area remain committed to assisting localities in the growing problem of miniature pigs. For the past 15 years, these local rescues have been able to assist with the rescue and placement of pet pigs that were stray or unwanted by their owners. Hundreds of pigs have been rescued, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and carefully placed in appropriate homes after careful screening and a guarantee that they could be returned to the rescuer if the new owner was not able to care for them. One of our members has been asked to present to different groups on the capture and transport of miniature pigs. We have responded to calls from animal control to assist in seizures involving miniature pigs in King George, Prince William, and Halifax Counties. We have also taken pigs out of many animal control shelters throughout the Commonwealth on every occasion requested. Interestingly, none of us have ever been contacted by the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA or Albemarle County Animal Control. Nelson County Animal Control did for the first time asked for help with several pig situations this past month but has yet to follow up on any of the cases discussed.
Although it was once possible for the local rescues to keep up with the influx of miniature pigs needing help, the need has now far exceeded the resources available. Sanctuaries throughout the US and Virginia are full. Pigs turned loose are going feral and breeding at alarming rates and disastrous consequences. A quick Google search will reveal the extent of the problem right here in Virginia. Pigs being dumped by owners is one of the leading causes.
The sales of “teacup” pigs and other misleading marketing techniques have created a huge number of pigs in need of homes. It is rare to go to the local Craigslist and not find mini pigs being sold for large sums as piglets or given away as adults. As rescuers we know that there is no market for adult mini pigs. They simply do not make the good pets they are advertised to be. Although these animals can make wonderful companions for a few folks, they are NOT good pets for the majority of people. They are farm animals that require lots of outdoor time and as herd animals, need the company of other pigs to be happy.
Advertised as “house pets” and described as sweet tempered, intelligent and not exceeding 20 to 50 pounds, they sound ideal to those who have not actually gone to a sanctuary and met these grown pigs that average over 100 lbs when mature at age five. These animals breed at 52 days for males and 3 months for females. They easily have two litters a year and make easy bucks for those with even a little spare space to keep them. The truth is that many do not stay sweet tempered in confined areas. They need lots of area to be happy. If confined in a house, they can literally destroy it. Pigs need to root and stay active. If not provided with that opportunity, they will uproot carpet, eat drywall, tear up floors and destroy furniture. Their rooting behavior also destroys the family lawn.
Because of inherent difficulties in restraining and treating mini pigs, few vets will even see them. Many pet pigs die or suffer from very treatable problems. The cost of the absolutely necessary spaying and neutering is very expensive and there are no spay/neuter clinics for pigs! Many pigs develop severe behavioral issues because they are forced to live in unnatural environments and can become very aggressive. Many owners are not aware that dogs and pigs do not mix well and tragedy ensues.
It is no wonder that so many pigs end up needing homes. Small animal rescues typically won’t take them because they consider them livestock and farm animal sanctuaries won’t take them because they consider them pets and not food animals. Many are just passed along from one bad situation to another. It is not unusual for sanctuaries to get pigs that have been through five or more homes. Some of these unwanted pigs are referred to the local rescues who are now forced to reserve a precious few spaces for life and death cases. We help network these would be owner surrender pigs but many people simply give them away. These poor creatures are often used for dog baiting, target practice, or taken to livestock auctions for slaughter as pet food. Some are left to live a life of lonely neglect forgotten in a tiny pen. Many are blind and deaf from being overweight and cannot walk due to overgrown hooves because no one can be found to trim them. Some have tusks grown into their faces. It is a horrible fate for a very sensitive and social creature whose intelligence is now known to be close to dolphins and the great apes. The reality is that they are far more intelligent than dogs, cats or horses.
It is a tragedy that so many pet pigs are simply discarded into the woods where they are often shot on sight or killed by predators. Some wander hungry, thirsty and frightened into a yard looking for help. This was the case of the pig found off of Profit road that has been the subject of so much attention. Sadly, there had been rescuers looking for him and in contact with us the night before. Dina Brigish alerted the authorities in Albemarle County that she stood ready to take in any pigs needing help. Yet, no attempt to reach rescuers was made for this pig.
It is absolutely certain that the pig killed in the CASPCA was a miniature pig that had been raised as a pet. A mini pig who is not well socialized would have been impossible to catch and corral in a neighborhood. The people charged with killing him would never have been able to do any of the things described in their own interview. He was not a farm or feral pig and his trust in humans was most certainly betrayed.
As we have previously stated in an unanswered letter to the CASPCA, we very much want to meet and work with everyone involved to create a safety net for the growing number of homeless pigs in our area. We have worked with sanctuaries around the country and are familiar with what has proven to work in these situations. There are several proposals we would like to discuss at the earliest possible convenience of the parties involved. All of us are very concerned about what will happen to the next pig that needs help in our area. We also wonder what has happened to all of those who must have come through in previous years.
It is with great pride that we live in an area where so many people care about and support animals. We are very proud that our community has a such a fabulous No Kill facility. The CASPCA is an organization and facility that we have always supported. Let us turn this tragic event into an opportunity to improve on a situation that needed to be brought to the forefront. We have to work together to do better for the homeless pigs in our community and assure that all animals receive the protection that they deserve. If the localities are going to allow pigs to be kept in our community as companion animals, it seems a moral obligation to provide the services and compassion that other companion animals are provided. It is our strong belief that if the animal loving community is aware of the situation, they too will support this effort to create a safe place for these animals to stay until reunited with owners or new homes found.
~Lorelei Pulliam, Ranger's Refuge Pig Rescue, Va.
Seriously, that is all I ever talk about.
When you get a friend request on Facebook?
Pig poop discussions are HAPPY occasions!
You are probably the landlord for the local pig wallow (with ZERO chance of filling it in anytime soon)
You incorporate pigs in everyday conversations that have NOTHING to do with pigs, at work, grocery stores, PTA meetings, etc.
If this isn't already on your car, you're waiting for it to arrive.
This is a real conversation you have with someone via text.
You have at least one pig themed item in your house. (But the odds are, you have way more than one.)
When your friends celebrate "Snout Sunday" too.
You realize that you are likely late with a meal when your dining room has been "poltergeised". (That is what we call the mysterious movement of chairs at my house)
Muddy hoof prints are normal.
You buy throw rugs a "few" at a time because they all end up looking like this.
You have that one special place you go for answers.... (lol)
This is your idea of a dream vacation....more pig stuff that you want to see!
You totally want to take a ride on this....
You have the natural ability to see a pig in just about everything. (You're not crazy, this does look like a pig!!)
You take off work because your pig is sick.
Your phone has more pictures of pigs than anything else. Yeah, they're not even your pigs....
You do have the pajamas, socks, shirts, flip flops, underwear, shorts and bedsheets that all feature a pig on them.
Yes, your pig does have birthday parties..and yes other pigs are invited and do attend the festivities!
But guess what?!? YOU are definitely NOT alone! There are plenty of crazy pig people out there! Be proud to be a responsible pig parent. That is not something that should be mocked, but instead it should be admired.
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.