Once again we are seeing posts and receiving emails about what veggies to give your pig(s). This veggie vs, that veggie. So once again we thought it might be time to reiterate that these pigs are Omnivore not Herbivore. While vegetables and fruits make great treats they are not nutritionally sound for complete diet or even half a diet.
Vegetables and fruits do not contain the protein that your pig needs nor do they contain all the other things incorporated into a well-made pig chow that keeps your pig healthy.
Part of this idea of feeding veggies and fruits seems to be based on what we would like to think they eat on their own. Left to fend for themselves they would be eating worms, small animals and even dead animals along with the grass and seeds and nuts that they find.
In this manner they adjust their own protein needs with the roughage and fiber that they know is important to them.
Well, great news folks! That's why we have good pig chows! Many years of development, millions of dollars in research facilities, many years of testing have gone in to what it takes to keep a pig happy and healthy.
There is NO substitute for a well-made pig chow in your pigs diet. This is what the chow was developed for...as a complete diet for the pig!
Flower cleaning her bowl.
When a pig is getting too heavy here, we cut back on his feed, but we NEVER completely cut out the pig chow. That pig chow is and should always be the foremost and most important part of the pigs diet.
There are 8 pigs here that came from a sanctuary that never had anything but a well balanced pig chow for their main diet. Two of those pigs are now 17 and 2 are 16, the others 11 & 12 years of age. While, we do give a few fruits and veggies now when available, they are not necessary to keep them healthy...they are a treat.
Another humorous thought is how long would it take us to cut up enough veggies and fruits to feed ten pigs daily? We would have to start the day even earlier than we do now and even if we felt like digging up a bunch of grub worms to throw in, it still wouldn't be a balanced diet like the pig chow.
While my opinion on using veggies as a food source is a negative thing there isn't any reason that it can't be used for a treat or when it's available and you want to give them a bite.
Our house pigs have seen veggies when we are cleaning them for us, but it is in moderation. What we are saying is that a pig that is on a well-balanced, well made pig chow can live it's whole life without ever having a veggie or fruit an still be a healthy happy animal. With that in mind it would stand to reason that the veggies and fruits should be considered as a treat and not as a food.
We receive lots of e-mail's on what veggies and fruits are good for pigs. Not that you are aware of how we feel about feeding veggies and fruits it will come as no surprise that as far as we can tell, it makes no difference.
Some veggies cause more gas than others like broccoli tends to do. You are the one that has to live in the house with your pig so if that doesn't concern you, then no problem.
Personally we feel that too much gas is not good for the pig so we don't feed it at all. Cucumbers are another one that we stay away from for that reason.
There is much discussion over types of lettuce fed to the pigs. Who cares if one is deemed more nutritious than the other? If our pig is on a good complete pig chow then it really doesn't matter what type lettuce you give them in moderation as a treat.
It is our opinion that we can not second guess all the years of research and testing done by professionals and scientists that go into making a well balanced complete pig chow. They did the work and we reap the benefits. That's as it should be.
I'm not talking about the sounds that your pig makes, but the sounds that you make on a daily basis that they seem to respond to. We all know that they know the sound of a bag of chips, or food in their bowl, but what about other sounds that we make in our daily routine.
It was several years ago when living in NV that I noticed Chelie's reaction when I put on my winter coat. She had figured out the sound that it made when I put it on and knew that we were going outside.
Lately I've been watching Porky and some of the other pigs to see which sounds they recognize. They seem to know the sound of the screen door opening, but only react when it is close to feeding time. They do always seem to know when it's feeding time don't they? Porky along with Rudy and Gracie seem to recognize the sound of the backdoor now and get all excited hoping that I will come over and let them out.
Most recently Porky has come to recognize the sound of the garage door going up/down. This isn't so bad most times when I'm leaving as he is usually still in his pen or far enough out in the yard, but I find myself racing to get the car into the garage and door closed before Porky when he is anywhere close by. You see he knows that is where the food is kept.
Here we go into the blahs of cold weather once again. It is a time for fluctuating temperatures that go from one extreme to another, and that is not good news for the precious porkers that live with us.
Our porcine friends do not like change in anything and the weather is no exception. Pigs are prone to respiratory problems and drastic change in temperatures can cause them even more problems. How much is too much for a pig? It depends on the pig. Even house pigs have a problem sometimes going from the heated house to the outdoors for potty time.
Around here we start watching close anytime there is a twenty degree difference in temperature up or down. The outside pigs are not immune just because they live outside and the house pigs just because they live in the house. What can we do about it? Keep a close eye on the pig and its actions.
We don't leave our house pets out for any extended length of time to do their business when there has been a sudden change and we bed outside pigs very well when the forecast calls for a sharp change. This is the time of year when I urge people to make sure that they have some kind of antibiotic on hand for those weekends and late nights when a vet may not be available. A few hours can make a difference.
As always prevention beats a cure but we cannot always control the environment of the pig. We want to watch for any change in a pigs eating habits. These guys are not like dogs and cats that may just have an off day over food. When a pig does not eat at all, the pig has a serious problem. NEVER ignore the fact that a pig turned down a meal! If this should happen then take his temperature. As a rule a pig with respiratory problems will run a fever.
Call your vet and explain that your pig is not eating and has a temperature and tell the vet that you know that these guys are prone to respiratory problems. ASK for an antibiotic. If it's a time when you can not get your vet then use what you have hopefully gotten from him to keep on hand for emergencies. There are a lot of safe antibiotics that are tasteless that you can put in some kind of treat. We keep 500 mg. Ampicillin here for emergency situations.
If you catch it before it gets too bad the pig will usually take it in a favorite treat. If it is beyond that, then the only other solution is an injectable antibiotic or you go the hard route and put the powder from the pill, or crushed pill in a syringe without the needle on it, mixed with a little water and give it to them by mouth.
If treated early the pig should respond within twelve hours and they have been known to get up and eat a meal after four or five hours. If is so very important to catch this at the beginning and save yourself and your pig a lot of stress.
These little critters seem to be very hale and hearty most of the time, but it is amazing how fast this problem can come on. We have seen it happen from the morning feed where the pig eats normally to the evening feeding when he is uninterested, lethargic and almost down. It is far better to be prepared then to be on the phone at 2 am looking for a Dr. and or making a long trip to pick something up from him for the pig. Most vets won't have a problem with giving you a mild antibiotic for this purpose.
I do not advocate treatment of your pig without a veterinarians advice. What I do advocate is something to help the pig until the time that he might be taken into the vet for treatment. This is what this is all about, a way to get something in the pig in a time frame that might make the difference for the pig until he can be seen by a veterinarian. It is far better to be prepared and never need it then to be stuck in a situation where you do need it and it is not there.
So as the seasons change get prepared and keep one eye on the sky, and the other on your piggy friend.
It's 2019 and like most of us you have made some kind of resolution(s) for the new year. The most common are to get more exercise, eat healthier and save money. Here are just a few suggestions that might help you and your piggy succeed in 2019.
Eat Healthier: Since we control what our pigs eat, it is generally our fault if they are over or underweight. Though most pigs tend to be overweight there are those that are underweight as either the breeder or vet has told you to only feed 1/4 - 1/2 of chow a day. This is NOT enough for a pig, especially a growing pig during their first year of life when they need that feed to build a strong immune system and bones.
Flower getting every last bite of food.
We all love giving our pigs treats as we know how cute they can be and will do almost anything for one. Remember that a treat is just that "a treat". It must be earned, and not part of their daily meals. For those pigs that tend to "pig out" you might want to try our Busy Ball which is meant to slow our pigs down and the meal last longer. They are also getting some exercise at the same time.
More Exercise: Not to worry, I'm not talking about lifting weights or jogging, but making sure that your pig gets up and out at least twice a day. A nice walk around the yard or in the house on those rain/snow days will work just as well. This also helps with the pig that gets constipated.
Oshay's version of working out!
Learn a New Trick: Our pigs love to learn new things so why not teach a new trick or take a behavior that they are doing naturally and turn it into a trick. Remember that when teaching new behaviors to keep the training sessions short and always end with a win for your pig even if it means doing a behavior that he already knows like sit. Lots of small treats work in the beginning, but remember to show lots of enthusiasm and praise. As the sessions go on; less treats and more praise and enthusiasm.
Mini obstacle course at the 2006 Pignic.
Save More Money: Our goal has always been and will continue to be to offer the highest quality products for your pet pig at affordable prices. Did you know that we now offer free shipping on most of our light weight products? Did you know that we offer monthly specials on our most popular products? Be sure to check back monthly to see if your favorite product is on special.
Life Span: I still feel that the average age for these pigs 12-15 years of age. There are cases of pigs living into their late teens or early twenty's, but I feel that the life span of these pigs is not what we assumed in the beginning (25-30). It is closer to the truth that they will have a productive life that equals the life span of the well cared for dog. This would make it between twelve and fifteen years.
Eyesight: Eyesight on the normal pig is considered very poor, and as the pig ages it appears to become even more poor. Due to the wonderful sense of smell this should not cause a problem with our pigs unless we change their environment or surroundings without using time and supervision during the acclimation period. Body Functions: The geriatric pig may have more problems with urination and bowel movement. It is not unusual to have problems with constipation on the older pig. The older the pig, the more of a problem it can become. In severe cases the pig will refuse to eat and appears to be in pain showing a tenderness in the stomach area, crabby and irritable, much like a human with these problems.
I know that some of you count every little calorie that goes in, but for this problem I suggest a teaspoon of low fat oil put on the food three items a week for prevention. Or something like Piggy Lax that is sold for this specific purpose. We also wet all feed for our older pigs.
Water intake is a very important part of this prevention on older pigs and should be encouraged as much as possible. We use a 50/50 mixture of cranberry juice added to the water. You can also use Pedialyte®, Ensure, apple juice or even kool-aid powder if it makes the pig drink more water. It is very important that older pigs have unlimited access to water at all times.
If you have one of the pigs that takes a bite of food and then a drink of water, this is sometimes a habit. It will work to simply move the water bowl across the room if you object to the pig doing this, and by wetting his food he will continue to eat well.
Exercise is another important part of keeping your porcine friend on schedule. Not only is exercise good for the pig in general, but it also encourages the pigs body to lose the waste material. Just as older humans tend to lead a more sedentary life style, our pigs are no different. Sometimes we have to push them to get them to do what we know is best. In the older pig the more frequently that they can go the better off they are.
For those pigs kept outside this is not a problem, as they have free access to potty time. For the house pigs however, this is not always the case. These guys tend to have absolutely wonderful house habits, and are generally creatures of habit, period. Meaning that they are used to going at certain times during the day. Heaven forbid that we should ask them to get up from a nap to go out and do their business when it's not on their internal schedule!
Pigs that have been going out three times a day are in the habit of going three times a day. Just as in humans, when they get a little older they may really need to go more often. Since it's not their habit to do so, they just don't and they don't ask, nor do they really think they should make this break with routine.
We really need to push this issue with them when they get older for their own good. The more time that they are given the chance to do their business, the less problem we are going to have with the pig in respect to the bowels and urinary tract.
The idea behind all this is to prevent any problem rather than trying to cure the problem once it exists. For pigs that show they do have a problem, we use the age old remedy of buying cans of stewed prunes and feeding them a few spread out over the day. Encourage more water consumption and less feed until (no pun intended) this problem passes.
Exercise: Along with what was talked about above, the benefits of moderate exercise cannot be stressed enough. It makes the blood flow, gives the heart a boost, supplies oxygen to the lungs, and is imperative to the older pigs health and well being. (Not to mention your own health if you are the one supplying the exercise for the pig.)
This does not mean that your pig has to run a marathon daily to be healthy, but by giving him the incentive to do as much walking as possible (in between his naps) you are giving his whole system a chance to wake up. If the snow, rain and mud prevent you from taking him outside for walks then make him follow you around the house for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.
This is not as easy as it sounds. I know from our experience with older house pigs, that these guys seem to almost go into a hibernation mode in the winter. They really don't want to do much of anything, and are crabby and irritable most of the time. This means it is up to you to find some creative way of making them want to stay up and do some walking.
Teeth: As the pig gains years he also has the potential to lose teeth and to develop sores on the gum line. While this problems isn't necessarily an age related one, the potential for problems increases with the age of the pig.
Weight: As a rule around here we keep a close eye on the weight of the older pig. If they look like they are losing weight then we up the feed. This is one of those things where you will be the best judge on their looks.
Vaccination Schedule: This is a controversial one that can be seen more than one way. My vet personally sees no reason to vaccinate pigs over the age of seven. (Not a stand that would be very popular with some vets.) The thinking behind this is that if the pig has had the vaccinations every year for most of his life, that the immunity is there and has been built up over a period of time, so to continue after this age is not a necessary thing.
This is a personal decision to be made by the individual and their vet. We do not vaccinate after the age of seven here (pigs or dogs) if we know the history of the animal. We just feel that this is one less stressful situation for the older pig to have to go through.
One has to remember that pigs at a sanctuary do not go to shows, are not around other pigs, and older pigs are not adopted out. Therefore these pigs are at low risk to begin with. This is a question that you may want to discuss with your own vet and then make a decision.
Anesthetic and the Older Pig: One can only assume that we all know that Isoflurane gas is the choice when it comes to our pigs having surgery or any of the other pig related things done that require them to be asleep. This is by far the safest method but even that method, on older pigs may alter. It may take less to knock down an older pig as time goes on. It is a good idea to remind your vet that the pig is getting up there in years.
We never give an older pig a tranquilizer by injection prior to the use of the gas. I know that most people here have the type of pig that can be taken in for the gas, but for those who may have the rescue pigs or pigs that may be too large or not dispositionaly inclined to this there must be an alternative.
We have used an injectable for the last two years on a multitude of pigs needing vet care without any problems. Following is the dosage and drugs that we use on these pigs. It may be something that you want your vet to have on record just in case it is ever needed by you or someone you know. My vet was very impressed with the way it works, and as I said we have used in many occasions at the sanctuary.
Also, please remember that we are saying that the Isoflurane gas is the BEST but, if you can't get the pig there or the pig is one that has not been handled this is the next best bet. This may enable pigs to get vet care that otherwise may not get the care needed and this is the only reason we included it.
Rough Formula: For Larger Pets (50+ pounds) 1cc for every 50 pounds of body weight of Telazol 1cc for every 100 pounds of body weight of Rompun
Put both drugs in the same syringe and give in the neck muscle. Wait five minutes, pig will go down and be asleep.
GIVE NO OTHER DRUGS OR TRANQUILIZERS AND DO NOT GIVE ANY MORE THEN THE DOSAGE PER BODY WEIGHT. (By no other drugs we do not mean antibiotics. Antibiotics can be safely given following the procedure.)
More Detailed Formula: For Smaller Pets (40-50 pounds) 2 mg for every pound of body weight of Telazol 1 mg for every pound of body weight of Rompun
Put both drugs in the same syringe and give in the neck muscle. Wait five minutes, pig will go down and be asleep.
GIVE NO OTHER DRUGS OR TRANQUILIZERS AND DO NOT GIVE ANY MORE THEN THE DOSAGE PER BODY WEIGHT. (By no other drugs we do not mean antibiotics. Antibiotics can be safely given following the procedure.)
After Care: Put sleeping pig in a quiet place. We use a carrier for this part with blankets and leave them alone other than checking quietly on them for the next 12 hours. No food or water until the pig can walk out of the carrier on his own, and no food or water for 8 hours PRIOR to giving the injection.
The Last Hoorah: For that time that we never want to think about but is as much a part of life as anything else. What is the most humane way of putting a pig down? The less stress the better for all concerned. When this time comes (and only you can decide this very personal issue) the thing we all want most for our porcine friends is to have them go peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge.
We use the above formula and after the pig is asleep we use the Jugular, the same place most of you use for blood testing, and administer the pheno barb solution. The pig is already asleep and this can be done easily. Needless to say that you need not be as careful with the dosage of the first injection of Telazol and Rompun when it is used for this purpose.
I only bring this unwanted subject up because there are people I here from all the time telling horror stories of what has happened. There have been many cases of giving the pig the injection directly into the heart without the pig being asleep first. While this method is fast, I have trouble going along with it if there is a way to do it that I feel is more humane. This is something that you need to discuss with your vet before the time comes when you may not be thinking as clearly
One last note here would be to ask if it's okay for you to stay with your friend until it is over. A hard thing to do for us, but a good thing for the pet that has given so much to us. In twenty years there has never been an animal here that went to the final sleep without the touch of many hands on their heads and the sound of my voice in their ear. A hard thing for us to do but so little compared to what they have given in the short time we are allowed to have them with us.
Can pigs use stairs is a question we get a lot. Yes, pigs can use/do stairs, but that doesn't mean that they should. We find that younger pigs can handle stairs much better than older pigs, and as they get older they no longer want to use the stairs. And in most cases they won't go down steps, but will come up them. They prefer to go down a ramp and will come up the step(s). This is something that you need to consider when getting a pig for a pet.
Personally, I don't like steps at all. If a pig is midsize and not overweight, they may be able to do it okay. But if they are 'weight challenged' they will not be able to see well. Remember: Their eyesight is not the best in the world to begin with. Steps that are 6-7 inches deep may look like a canyon to them. Also, stairs can eventually cause leg and joint problems for the pig as it gets older. So, your pig may be able to do stairs when young, but will not be able to when she gets older.
Doing steps can put an enormous stress on their joints, which can produce hairline-size cracks at the elbow joints. Those little cracks can sometimes make the pig lose footing and fall to one side often resulting in a pinched nerve. This could be temporary, if you are lucky, or it could cause permanent damage.
Pot belly pig's skin is so tight it compresses the pinched area and when the nerve gets pinched it will generally swell up in that area. This is very painful for the pig.
This is another reason you should not let or encourage your pig to jump off and on furniture. Not only could they end up with a pinched nerve, they might end up with a broken leg or back. This has happened many times before and is very sad.
When Ziggy and Flower were younger and a bit smaller they loved going upstairs and getting into trouble. Well when Flower would come down the steps she would almost every time skip the last step and jump to the floor below. We were very lucky and no pinched nerves or broken bones here. We no longer have to worry about them going upstairs. They decided on their own not to do them and we don't even have to gate it off when we leave the house.
Bottom line: Pigs are not really made for jumping (on or off of furniture) or climbing stairs (they do not jump or climb stairs in the wild). Try not to encourage this, particularly if they are adult pigs.
I highly recommend that if your pig must go up and down a few steps to get in and out of the house that you either buy or build a ramp. Teach them now while they are young and get them used to it. They might also need a ramp to get in and out of your car.
The most important thing to remember when buying or building a ramp is to make sure it sturdy. Some pigs don't mind a little movement, but others will not get on it if it moves the slightest amount. They need to feel secure on the ramp.
Our ramps were made of wood, and very heavy. Make your ramp as fancy or simple as you want. Just make it sturdy. You can try putting some carpet on it, non-slip tape, diving board materials or slats. Use what makes your pig feel safe.
Portable ramps that are made for dogs are nice for your vehicle. Just make sure that it will hold the weight of your pig. I have a portable ramp that is from PetStep and will hold up to a 500lb animal. I had a friend add 2x4’s under it though for extra support since it was being used on a regular basis.
When first training your pig to use the ramp just lay it flat on the ground and get your pig used to walking on it. Teach a command, such as "up ramp," "down ramp." Keep it simple.
Some recommend treats only when the pig has reached the top or bottom of the ramp. We taught ours by putting a treat every few slats and then rewarding at the top and bottom. Once they were comfortable doing the ramp we stopped putting treats on the slats and only rewarded at the top or bottom of the ramp.
If you stop using the ramp for an extended period of time you may have to retrain your pig. Never punish him for this. He will only regress. There were a couple of years when we used to take trips that we had to retrain Ziggy and Flower to use the ramp in and out of the car. This is because we wouldn't take them any where during the winter. Then come spring we were ready to go again and they weren't. They just had to get used to doing it at such an incline again.
I don’t have any directions for building a ramp, but can show you some pictures and info and hopefully you can duplicate or make something similar that will work for your needs. This is a really good ramp that was built for a friend of mine many years ago...so I don't have directions. As you can see this is nice and wide and has a support in the middle (which you might want to consider with a longer ramp) along with "sides" with a couple of braces that seem to be 3 2x4's. It is just enough to keep them going down the ramp and not over the sides.
Mr. Einswiner's ramp.
Below you will see the ramp that we used for Ziggy to go down a couple of steps and up/down into the Explorer. We had slats every few inches and just a 2x4 along each side to help guide. Each pig is different so they have different needs.
Ziggy on his ramp coming out of the Explorer.
Below are before and after pictures that were sent in after someone had emailed me for help on getting their pig to go outside. Once we figured out that the issue was probably the ramp I sent them a picture of Mr. Einswiner's ramp. Their pig now goes in and out with no issues.
The pet pigs in this area probably give us some of the best data out there for working with the older pet pigs. They have been in the same home since their youth for the most part and have lived lives as house pets intertwined with their humans as close companions and friends.
Knowing these pigs has been a privilege and a learning experience. To have watched them go from the youthful days through maturity into the senior age and now some beyond, makes them very special.
Since we now know that the average expected life span is more like twelve to fifteen years rather than twenty years it gives us a new framework to think about. What is considered a senior and what is considered old? Just as in humans, it depends on the pig and as in humans the physiology of the individual comes into play. We change the care of the pig as the pig dictates the need for change.
The older the pig gets the more it slows down and the slower its body functions become. Remember the times when your friend was young and you increased the food so that he would have adequate nutrition to grow the bone needed when he was mature? Then you moved on to the worry that he might be getting too much and you had to watch the weight?
Well, you have come full circle with the old pig and it is time to start watching again. Not for weight gain but for weight loss. Old pigs take more to keep going than a you pig does. When a pig reaches the teens it is time to watch closely and be ready to up the feed rations again.
Their digestion is slower along with their ability to process the food given, so it's important to watch closely on these old guys and start before it becomes a problem for them. It can be told from experience that it is harder and takes longer to put weight on an old pig than it is to take weight off a mature pig.
This could be an important factor should your old pig become ill. They must have some reserve energy supply to work with if expected to come through illness with ease.
There are many that have fought the battle on this issue. Some we have won…some we have lost. There appears to be no one way to do it and most of these battles depend on how well you communicate with the bureaucracy along with the mind set of that bureaucracy.
PROBLEMS YOU FACE:The Dept. of Agriculture classifies these animals as swine. No matter how many proclamations we have, no matter the number of letters we have, it will still be the same. As long as we are required to blood test as the swine do we will be classified as swine. While we may have letters from individuals in the Dept. of Agriculture stating that these are pets…it does not change the bottom line.
It would not be cost effective for the Dept. of Agriculture to change the rules to suit the few thousand pet pigs in the Country. Also consider how could they draw the line between the pets and the herds that are not considered pets, but who are still not considered meat producing animals.
LOBBY POWER BY THE PORK PRODUCERS:They are not going to allow us to travel with impunity place to place as long as our animals are capable of carrying or transmitting swine disease to the pork that they depend on for a living. We have to understand that we are dealing with the farm mentality not people who keep pets.
The fact that our pets are for the most part spayed or neutered and that they are not breeding animals is not of interest to them. The fact that most of the disease problems that we are blood tested for are diseases affecting breeding of the animal which makes it mostly a non pet problem is also of no concern to them.
At this point in time there is no way to separate the two. Even if they were willing, where do they draw the line between pets and those kept in herds that are not really pets, but certainly not meat producing animals.
A dubious outcry from some quarters who even though they claim to love the pigs seem to come out of the woodwork every time a zoning issue is brought forward. These people are ahead of you on almost every front and have had more time to get organized against allowing zoning. They have not been totally up front with any of us and for sure are not fair in the scare tactics that they use with the city fathers.
POPULARITY OF THE PET PIG:While this is a good thing for the unwanted pigs out here it makes the battle for zoning even harder. There are fewer and fewer people who are willing to ask to keep their pig and as we all know, numbers count with the bureaucracy.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?Can we change the stand of the Dept. of Agriculture? That is very doubtful. At least not in my lifetime do I expect a change in the laws regarding the potbellied pig.
Can we hope to gain the lobby power of the pork producing states? No we can't. We do not have the numbers nor the commitment nor the money.
Can we refute the group fighting against zoning and make our voices heard. Yes, we can, but only if we do it carefully by keeping the WELFARE OF THE PIGS as our first and foremost concern.
The first thing that we can all do is, NEVER, NEVER place a pig, give a pig, sell a pig to a permanent home without checking for OURSELVES if this is a zoned area!! Once that pig is in that home IT IS the pig that will suffer when its found to be illegal. DO NOT PUT THE PIG AT RISK. To do this and fight the battle later is not fair to the pig that is possibly going to end up in a sanctuary or worse.
PICK YOUR BATTLES VERY CAREFULLY!Do not just jump in and decide to fight for all the pigs that you come across with zoning problems. Do your homework first. How did this pig come to be living there? How long has the pig lived there? How did they get the pig?
Some of these people who have had their pig for a while never thought to ask if it was legal. However, there are those who knew and did it anyway or they were not told by whoever gave them the pig that it could be a problem. By asking a few questions you should be able to pin point where the problem is in your area.
If that pig has been in the home for a period of years than it probably is a person who just never thought to ask if the pig was welcome. If however, the pig is a young pig or they have only had it for a few months then the warning light should go on. ASK WHO PLACED THAT PIG WITH THEM. If one name keeps coming up or one business or one pet shop etc. then you know where to start your campaign to keep these pigs from being placed in a dangerous position in the first place.
PICK YOUR BATTLE ACCORDING TO RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP ONLY!Last year I remember a case that came on the pig lists on the computer. A lady was being forced to give up her pig and there were numerous calls of help put out. Upon further investigation it was found that this lady had been cited for her dog and twice for her pig. One citation was for unsanitary conditions.
This is NOT a battle that should be taken on! Responsible pet owners do not get cited for unsanitary conditions nor do they get cited for animals who are repeatedly getting out. One time maybe, repeatedly, No. In these kinds of cases your reputation loses all credibility and substance should you decide to step in.
WHEN YOU DO HAVE A LEGITIMATE BATTLE!The most important thing to do is have your "ducks" in a row beforehand. Keep your letters short and to the point without emotion. The bureaucracy does NOT like to read. Keep your letters centered around what will affect THEM as a city or town. They really are not interested in how we feel about our pets, but they will listen if it is going to affect them and their jobs in any way.
Be ready and able to dispute any erroneous information that may have been given to them about the pigs as pets. Give them the facts and state them to their benefit.
To counter some of the negative information put out there give them numbers and facts to work with. In some cases they have been told that it will cost the city in funds to allow the pigs as pets, saying that it means more shelter room, more personnel, etc.
Counter this with information that you can get by writing to animal shelters across the country and asking for statistics and numbers of pigs brought in and if it has increased the cost to the shelters to take on these animals. Have they had to add extra personnel to take care of the problem and has it added to their expense, if so how much?
DISEASE FACTOR AND RABIES:One of the misconceptions that is being given to the cities and towns is the disease factor. There have been studies done that will give you in black and white the number and types of disease that is transmissible to humans by pigs, dogs and cats. The pigs come out the very best!
One argument used to the cities by certain negative groups is the rabies question. The way this comes across to the city is nothing more than a scare tactic, but one that must be countered from the very beginning. It is worded in such a way as to be borderline truthful, but not complete.
In every letter that I have read that was sent to cities contemplating the allowing of pigs, one issue stands out as they say that "pigs are warm blooded animals and therefore able to catch and transmit rabies and that there is no approved vaccine for use in pigs" Trying to get to the bottom of this one was a real bear.
Most vets concede that yes they are warm blooded animals therefore it is possible for them to contract rabies, but they also state that it would be highly unusual for this to happen. There is no recognized vaccine for pigs...this is true. Because there HAS NEVER BEEN A NEED FOR IT!
Whatever protection that the pig has, it is not in his genetic makeup to be susceptible to rabies. Just think of all of the thousands of farm pigs across this country that live in wooded areas with a multitude of wildlife with no rabies vaccinations! The JAVMA last month released a very long article from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta that says it better than we ever could if you want to read the whole thing.
Also a letter from my vet who apparently is a very brave soul. Ask your own vet for a record of how many pigs he has come in contact with rabies. Your chance of contracting rabies from a pig is about the same as being hit by a meteor while sitting in your living room watching TV! Get it in writing!
DANGEROUS ANIMALTo refute this erroneous and biased argument, give figures on animal bites from animal control officials. Numbers of people bitten by pigs in the last year for example. These cities and towns are being given the idea that they are going to have herds of rabid, aggressive pigs running amuck through their streets. This is an easy one to counter.
MORE AND MORE UNWANTED PIGSLet them know that responsible pet ownership is not nearly the problem in pet pigs that it is in other species of pet animals. Just because they are legal does not mean everyone will want one. Cite the JAVMA article that gives the percentage of 34% of homeless pigs is due to them being zoned out of their homes by cities and towns.
Give them the facts that these animals are by nature, sedate creatures that sleep a lot, do not bark, and basically are cleaner about their habits than dogs. These are the kinds of facts that you need to get across when writing to the cities and towns during zoning. Things that THEY may be worried about in their capacity as city Fathers.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON EACH CASERead the city or town ordinance carefully and check the wording. Some are simple and say no swine period. Some say no farm animals. Some say exotic animals are not allowed and some say that exotic animals are allowed. Use their wording to your best advantage.
For example: if exotic animals are not allowed...it's easy to prove that these pigs by this time are no longer exotic animals! They have been bred in the United States for a period of years, so for all intents and purposes, they are no longer exotic.
USE THE ULTIMATE WEAPONClose your argument with what may be our best weapon yet. Let them know that you are more than open to a license fee for the pigs! If they are afraid of increased costs on shelters and manpower, this can be a great thing for us. It is the one thing that has been proven to work with the dogs and it will work with the pigs.
The responsible pet owners will not object to paying a license fee to keep their pet, the city will get extra money, and it will discourage those who cannot afford to care for a pig or who do not want to be bothered about applying for a license. This in turn helps those who are committed to being good pig parents.
While we would all like to think that we should be allowed to have the pet of our choice this is not the case. We all know and accept the fact that these pigs are not the pet for everyone, but for those of us that know them and love them there is no other pet. It is a shame that there are some really great pig parents out there who may never have the chance to enjoy one of these unique animals.
As a person who believes in responsible pet ownership being the first criteria for happy animals and happy people it is a difficult situation for me. I do know that it has been my experience for 30 years of working in humane circles and animal welfare that YOU CAN NOT LEGISLATE RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP!! It is there or it’s not there. If it could be legislated away we would not be killing over a million dogs a year due to irresponsible owners.
It is my thought that placing one of our pigs in a non zoned area just because we think it should be our right to have one is as irresponsible as the owners of those animals that died for no reason other than they were brought into the world by people who did not think about their future.