How the Mini-Pig Trend is Causing Big Pig Trouble
I would much rather see pigs as loving pets than a restaurant’s daily special. It is extremely easy to fall in love with a pig. But as Jack Frost the Pig’s story shows, having a pet as a pig is often too big of a responsibility, leading many owners to abandon unwanted pet pigs.
Jack Frost the Pig Abandoned
Jack Frost, a pot-bellied pig who weighs over 200-pounds, was left all alone at the Children’s Animal Farm, reports Shoreline Beacon. It’s believed that he was shoved under the Ontario farm’s fence.
Not only was Jack Frost left alone to fend for himself, but he was left sick and alone. He was found with overgrown hooves, which is very painful for pigs, and scratches on his back. The condition of his hooves make the staff feel like he was originally a pet because the hooves of farm pigs wear down on their own. But what Jack Frost’s caretakers are most worried about is that he refuses to eat. A veterinarian prescribed him pain medication, and explained that pigs in pain will not eat.
Becky Knight, a Humane Society investigations officer, explained to Shoreline Beacon that pigs are “almost like a fad animal. Some people just probably buy them because they think they’re cute and don’t really understand the care that’s involved.”
Jack Frost’s health is still in limbo, but if he does recover, then he will be placed in a new home. Investigators are still looking for those responsible for abandoning Jack Frost.
The “Mini-Pig” Fad Is Mostly Marketing
While we don’t know for certain why Jack Frost was abandoned, it’s very possible that his original family fell for a scam by a breeder or seller capitalizing on the “mini-pig” trend. Mini-pigs (also known as micro pigs, teacup pigs and pocket pigs) are certainly popular right now. As National Geographic reports, the number of mini-pigs in the United States jumped from 200,000 in 1989 to around one million today.
Many breeders and sellers take advantage of this trend, telling potential buyers that a potential pet pig won’t grow past a certain weight or size, sometimes even claiming they’ll stay small enough to fit in a teacup forever. Here’s the bad news: sellers are usually telling outright lies.
While the idea of the mini-pig is cute, there’s nothing cute about how they are bred and sold. Mini-pigs come about in three main ways:
1. The pigs are inbred and underfed to make them really small and really sick.
2. Piglets are branded and sold as adult pigs
3. Commercial farm pigs used for food are passed off as smaller pig breeds.
Those who are sick of pigs being dumped after buyers feel duped are working on educating the public on what a mini-pig is and is not. It looks like the American Mini Pig Association (AMPA) will be a leading voice in educating the general public about mini-pigs.
It’s a voice that mini-pigs desperately need. National Geographic highlights how Utah’s Best Friends Animal Society estimated that they saved 300,000 pigs in 2009 alone; for sure, that figure has jumped in recent years. Rich Hoyle, founder of The Pig Preserve, describes the horrifying condition that he sees some pigs in: “more rescued minis with congenital problems—such as deep recessed eyes, males born with retained testicles, and females born without an anus—because of poor breeding practices.” A herd of 50 to 100 pigs could all be descended from one brother and one sister pairing.
Esther’s Love: A Not-So Mini Blessing in Disguise
A lot of pigs need good homes that can keep up with their demands. Pigs can make wonderful companions; Esther the Wonder Pig is living proof of that. Esther was also originally marketed as a mini-pig, but time revealed that there’s clearly nothing mini about her. Instead of dumping Esther at a sanctuary, her love inspired her guardians to start a pig sanctuary, to go vegan, and to become “accidental activists.”
Since sanctuaries are already overwhelmed with pigs, here are a few resources to learn what you need to know before bringing a pig into the family and starting a 12- to 15-year commitment (big hint: pigs aren’t legal pets in every state or county): Pig Place Network, Pig O’ My Heart Potbellies and About Exotic Pets.
Photo Credit: J P