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This Little Piggie…

This Little Piggie…

“‘They will sit on your lap while you watch TV so you can scratch their belly. They will even talk to you and have you giggling for hours.”

All of a sudden, pigs have made their way into the spotlight as the latest pet craze in the UK. Admittedly, these pigs are a little different to the pigs we’re all familiar with. They’re tiny pigs – Miniature Pot Bellied pigs crossed with other breeds to create tiny, colorful, “Micro Pigs” which are sold for between £195 and £700 ($300 and $1100 US).

These pigs weigh a mere 9oz at birth, and are around the size of a tea cup. Two years later, when the pigs are fully grown, they stand at around 14 inches tall.

(Note: image above is not of actual Micro Pigs)
 
As one would expect, in a society where small, friendly animals are generally viewed more as toys than sentient beings, these cute little commodities “are being snapped up by celebrities”. And just to make doubly sure that, once they make it to the wider market, children will be sending their parents in force to the pet stores to bring home these living birthday gifts… the celebrities in question include Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint.

According to Mail Online:

“Demand for micro pigs is soaring and we are inundated with inquiries every day,” says Jane Croft, 42, who has given up her job to breed them full time. “It’s amazing how popular they have suddenly become and just how many people want pigs as pets.”

Her company website has been getting 4,000 hits a week and she gets at least 60 emails and 40 phone calls a day from people all over the world, including America, Russia, Spain and even Australia.

In a time when animal shelters are overflowing with unwanted ‘pet’ animals, this is just exactly what we need isn’t it? A whole new craze in ‘pets’, complete with the endorsement of celebrities whose target audience is young children. Sure, the price tag is high right now, but once Petland and their friends get wind of this idea, what’s to stop them and others from selling miniature pigs by the thousands?

In my estimation, before you know it, forums such as this one will be forwarding requests for homes for miniature pigs, alongside the endless stream of e-mails begging for mercy for dogs, cats and other animals who are living on death row, after committing no crime other than having worn out their welcome in a home where their novelty has worn off.

Of course, it will come as no surprise to many animal advocates to hear that the pigs are reported to be clean, highly intelligent and very loving and affectionate.

‘They really are fantastic fun, highly sociable and make amazing pets…’

Well, hang on a minute. Isn’t that what animal rights advocates have been saying for years? Pigs are intelligent, sociable, clean, wonderful animals who are loveable and affectionate, just like dogs… So, why is it that, unlike their canine counterparts, pigs are still generally considered ‘food animals’?

I can’t help but wonder whether the owners of these miniature pigs eat pork products. One must assume that at least some of them do… Which begs the question, considering the generally accepted position that some animals are meant to be pets and some are meant to be food… how on earth do they reconcile that inconsistency?

There is only one glimmer of hope that I can glean from this situation. I imagine that there are people who are, for the first time, going to have the opportunity to learn to love a pig, and who, sooner or later, will make the connection between the pig who sits on their lap and lets them tickle her tummy, and the pig who was butchered for the bacon on the breakfast table.

Perhaps, in some bizarre irony, the manipulation and exploitation of these micro pigs will turn out to be the way that people learn to see pigs as they really are; not as bacon, or ham, or pork chops, or sausages, but as warm, intelligent, affectionate beings who, just like the family dog or cat, also have love in their hearts to give, and also have a will that burns inside them, driving them against all odds to survive, driving them against all odds to live.

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Image: Wanda Embar, www.VeganPeace.org

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137 comments

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10:07PM PDT on Oct 21, 2009

"Perhaps, in some bizarre irony, the manipulation and exploitation of these micro pigs will turn out to be the way that people learn to see pigs as they really are; not as bacon, or ham, or pork chops, or sausages, but as warm, intelligent, affectionate beings who, just like the family dog or cat, also have love in their hearts to give, and also have a will that burns inside them, driving them against all odds to survive, driving them against all odds to live."

I couldn't have said that better.

Concur 100%.

Many Blessings~

10:35PM PDT on Oct 19, 2009

I know Pigs are intelligent, they are smart like dogs, but my house is crowded with my lovely Dogs and Cats :)

9:54PM PDT on Oct 17, 2009

Obviously you've never had a pet Catherine, so you have no idea of the impact it has on a person or what it's like to have a furry body to cuddle with and lick your face whether you're happy or sad.

9:33AM PDT on Oct 17, 2009

Catherine, you may have missed my point about protesting for years. During that time I learned that the more you may believe you have the moral high ground, the more defensive your opposition will get. Once they feel defensive you won't get anywhere.

Marena, you are so right...this has gotten so far off topic that it is annyoing. The only point I was trying to stress was that with better Spay and Neuter programs there will be fewer animals in shelters.

And Dan, I think that by now we can at least agree that you will not change my views any more than I will change yours. I wish you the best in your challenges towards creating a better world.

Peace to you all...and apologies if this posts twice...tried to send it once and it vanished into never never land...

1:49AM PDT on Oct 17, 2009

For heaven's sake...This is about the latest fad of breeding Micro Pigs/Tea-cup pigs. Is it ethical/advisable to create new species/sub-species of companion animals? Instead of staying with the actual topic, this has once again deteriorated into a war of words between the "evil Omnivores and the saintly Vegan/Vegetarians" it" so annoying.

12:31AM PDT on Oct 17, 2009

alice
it might be helpful if you think about the issue that you are most passionate about. are there two moralities? when people oppose your position, do you readily accept it as a valid opinion or do you try to change their minds? what have you been protesting for all these years, if not to change the opinion of the opposition.

12:24AM PDT on Oct 17, 2009

sarah
saying "ask any vet" is not a source. and i'm aware that there have been studies on altruism in animals. in particular, rhesus monkeys that would rather starve than deliver a shock to another monkey (madisonmonkeys.com/masserman.pdf) i didn't mean to imply that all animals are incapable of making moral decisions. simply that humans don't expect them to because we have not seen any indication of moral reasoning in the majority of animals studied. maybe we will expect more of certain animals in the future as we learn more. however, humans are fully capable and expected to use moral reasoning.

4:04PM PDT on Oct 16, 2009

I'd also like to see all the artificially created species of dogs, cats, and now pigs, go extinct too! That would be terrific!

In case some of the less alert people reading and/or commenting are confused, I'm NOT claiming that the individuals of these artificial species who are living are not important as individuals. I'm saying that we should not breed them into existence. Extinction would eventually result as a logical conclusion of not breeding them, and that would be wonderful.

3:56PM PDT on Oct 16, 2009

Oh, and I would love to see these artificial species bred by humans solely to exploit go extinct! Yes, the planet would be a much more natural place without the fake destructive, polluting, and unnecessary species of GMO chickens, cows, and pigs. The extinction of these manufactured species would be a wonderful accomplishment.

3:47PM PDT on Oct 16, 2009

Alice,

I don't see this as a urinating contest, but a discussion of the reasons and justification we have for exploiting and slaughtering innocent beings. I have put forth a very strong moral argument supporting veganism as a moral imperative. You have not even made it weaker, much less refuted it.

I would much rather be born a random slave in 18th century America than a random animal in 21st century America. So saying that the life of the average chicken or other nonhuman is worth living is absurd. More to the point, even if it was a life worth living, slaughtering them is no more justified than slaughtering a human slave after they can no longer work. We bring these innocent beings into existence so we can use them, eat them, and defecate them out our backsides. It is morally disgusting, but we're blind to it because of our deep bigotry against them. Wake up, Alice. Get the extreme violence out if your life.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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