Know the Facts First
BY: Lana Hollenback
I would like to thank Randolph A. Wood, who was one of the founders of Pigs As Pets Association, Inc. and treasurer, for all his wonderful advice and counsel on publishing so that this booklet could become a reality.
A special thank you to all the sanctuary owners who responded to our survey and who willingly allowed me to harass them daily for information and answers to all the questions that I had.
To the many people on the Internet pig lists who have shared information and ideas and have so willingly answered questions. Without them, this booklet would never have been written.
About the Author
Lana spent her early years growing up on a farm and learned to love all animal life. She was to later become co-owner of Gregory Mobile Home Park. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and is an Ordained Minister and certified Christian Pastoral Counselor. She has traveled in six different countries and throughout the United States. After spending time as a missionary in Guatemala, Lana and her husband, Dick, settled in Fort Myers, Florida where she became a Realtor and retired in 1994. Then in 2008 she and Dick retired to a mini farm in Deer Lodge, TN where they reside today.
She is now retired from prison ministry and serves as an advocate to the potbellied pig and other animals. She has published books, articles, poems and several booklets within the Christian community and now within the potbellied pig community as well.
Over the years she founded and developed several organizations, and co-founded a pig club and association. She served as President of Calvary International Ministries, Incorporated and volunteers as CEO to Forgotten Angels Rescue & Education Center, Inc. and editor of their newsletter, Animal Angel News on line. It is her desire that this booklet serve not only the pig community but all critters everywhere.
In all of this, her love of animals has grown. When visiting her home be prepared to see many different kinds of animals including skunks; prairie dogs; and (of course) three potbellied pigs: Gordy, Rugby and Sammy, dogs, chickens and donkeys.
This booklet is dedicated to every sanctuary owner, rescue group and volunteer, who work endlessly and tirelessly for the betterment of our beloved pet pig. Also to all the veterinarians who work with sanctuaries and rescue groups.
Know the Facts First
In 1999 a survey was sent out to thirty-two rescue groups and sanctuaries around the United States. Eighteen of them responded and here are the findings. Results are shown as averages unless otherwise
Of the eighteen responding, only two were rescue groups.
Most have been rescuing for at least two and-a-half years.
The average length of time of running a sanctuary was two years The number of pigs per sanctuary is 47.
All but one sanctuary had a quarantine pen with an average stay of 30 days.
The initial cost per rescue is $200.00.
The cost/month/pig for feed is $7.00 (Not including fruit and vegetables.)
The cost/month/pig for bedding is $15.00
The cost/month/pig for medical is $15.00.
The start up cost per sanctuary was $3000.00.
The success rate for finding homes for Babies was 99% –
Adults up to 3 years was 58% – Over 3 years was 2%
Everyone responding stated they plan on keeping each pig they take in for the life of the pig and feel lucky when they place them.
The number of veterinarians used per sanctuary is 2.
The death rate is 1.2 in a three year period.
The leading cause of death is heart failure due mostly to obesity.
The second leading cause of death was respiratory problems.
All but one responding uses an adoption contract.
Typical follow-up was two times within the first year.
The percentage of adopted pigs returned to the sanctuary was 2%.
The time spent cleaning and feeding daily is four (4) hours.
The time spent socializing is two (2) hours daily.
Most people owning sanctuaries are the sole employees with an average of three volunteers helping them.
Other than potbellied pig food, the largest expense was for fruit, vegetables and horse feed used as a food supplement.
The above information is over 12 yrs old so many of the statistic and pricing has now gone up.
A sanctuary or shelter is A Promise of Life to abandoned, unwanted, and neglected animals. It promises them that they have a place to dwell where they will be safe, have shelter and food, and where predators will be kept at bay.
This booklet is not intended to encourage anyone to begin a sanctuary or shelter. It is intended to give out facts and cause for thought. Loving pigs is not a reason for beginning a sanctuary or shelter. It is my belief that running a sanctuary or shelter is a calling in life. It is not something you go into without lots of thought and planning. It is a lifetime commitment that should not be taken lightly.
To repeat, loving pigs is not reason enough to begin a sanctuary. In fact, if you are not called and ready to make a lifetime commitment , then in fact you are endangering the very life of the pigs you profess to love if you begin a shelter. Too many things can change in one’s life and plans – and then instead of A Promise of Life , you give them only more stress, abandonment, and yes, even death.
It is our desire that this booklet becomes A Promise of Life in helping you make the right decision – an informed decision based on facts, and not just feelings.
BEGINNING YOUR SANCTUARY
Any type of sanctuary should be built on a firm foundation. That means – get the facts first and then weigh the facts and see if they are right for you. It is our sincere hope that this booklet will help you make an informed choice.
Knowing Your Limits – Learning to Say “No”
Owning a sanctuary is not for everyone and the pigs are the one to suffer when you find this out after the fact. Every sanctuary needs to have a strong organizational structure complete with a knowledgeable board of directors. You will need to draw upon their wisdom and knowledge many times over the course of a year. They should be so well advised as to know your limits and hold you to them. Everyone needs accountability and this is what a board of directors is all about. A good board of directors will be there to let you know when you are doing things right and to encourage you when things are going wrong. And they will go wrong at times. They can help you learn how to set a limit and how to say no. A good board of directors is invaluable to you and the sanctuary and they should be your best public relations advocates.
When choosing a board of directors, you need to look for people with a love of animals, and/or pigs and those that have a working knowledge of what a sanctuary is. Places to look for board members are veterinarians, Humane Societies, other sanctuaries and/or animal welfare groups, and clubs and other organizations that deal with the pet pig. The list is endless, so get started looking in the right direction before you begin.
What to Call it
Many people have different ideas as to whether or not they should name it a sanctuary, refuge or shelter . For the most part, by definition, they mean the same. The definition of “sanctuary” is a place of safety and shelter and “shelter” is a place of safety and protection, like from rain. “Refuge” is a place where one is safe also. The Internal Revenue Service has stated that they are not concerned about what it is called, as they determine non-profit status based on what you plan on doing. They look at what you are doing, what you plan to do, and how you will be conducting your business. You can call it a Pig Sanctuary, Pig House, or Pig Stye, but the paperwork you file with the Internal Revenue Service must reflect what is being done for the pigs and what will be done. So the bottom line is that you have to decide what name you are comfortable with.
Private verses Public
Private sanctuaries are just that. They are private and receive very little (if any) donations from outside donors. You should determine up front how many pigs you can maintain without any funding from anyone else. Another factor to consider is what happens to the pigs if something should happen to you and you would not be around to take care of them? Where would they go and where would the monies come from that would be needed to keep the sanctuary going or to take care of the pigs?
You will need to have someone in place and ready to take over should the need arise. Also, you can will your estate or part of it to the sanctuary, but be sure that seek the advice of a competent attorney. Nothing should be taken for granted.
Public sanctuaries are different in that they operate off of public donations and grants. It takes time to build a strong donor base and you will need a good grant writer who knows where to apply for the grants. You will need to build a mailing list of donors and maintain it. There will be added expenses just to make contacts and to maintain contact with donors. Also remember that you will be depending on the donations — and one of the main questions to ask yourself is, “what happens if donations fail to come in or fail to come in a timely manner?” How will you take care of the pigs should all the donations cease?
Also remember that you should own your land or be in the process of buying it, and not renting or leasing. Owning a sanctuary is a long term commitment, so you should have a long term land commitment.
When starting a sanctuary, you will need a minimum of 1.5 acres or more, depending upon the total number of pigs you can adequately handle. One and-a-half acres may handle as many as 20 to 25 pigs at any given time. Remember that these pigs will need to have room to graze as well as having adequate pens and shelters.
A new pig coming in will need to be quarantined for about 30 days before being integrated into the herd. Quarantine pens should be at least 16’x16′ with an adequate shelter for one pig. Remember the pig will be living there for a minimum of 30 days and the pen should be at least 150 feet away from any contact with any other animals. Check with your veterinarian for your specific state and local guidelines. The pig will need vaccines and will need to be wormed. The pig may also need to be neutered or spayed., and/or have hooves and tusks trimmed. Average cost can be around $250.00 per pig. For the safety of your herd, and to be in compliance with some state’s guidelines, you should have a vet available for Brucellosis testing and for Pseudo-rabies testing before integrating the new pig into the herd. Some states will provide this testing at no cost to the sanctuary, and will certify the entire herd if the segregation is maintained, allowing your pigs to enjoy a less stressful and healthy life. At no time should an untested pig be brought in contact with your herd as this may affect the safety (and possibly the state’s certification) of your entire herd.
Remember that some of the rescue pigs coming in will be pregnant sows. This will mean extra shelter for her and her piglets and then extra food, vaccines and work. Each pig coming in will require more bedding and water, and lest we forget, lots of love. These animals are companion pets and should be treated as such. So much more when they are in a sanctuary. Most of the pigs living in sanctuaries didn’t arrive there because they were loved and wanted. Most are fearful and untrusting because of treatment by previous owners. Many will come in with attitude problems that will require extra work and love on your part.
Another start-up consideration that is often overlooked is staffing. Vacations, family emergencies, sickness, and other unforseen emergencies will come up. That’s a fact of life. As a sanctuary owner, you will need to have people in place that you can call on at a moment’s notice when the need arises. Volunteers are also handy for those day-to-day jobs like cleaning, hay and feed runs, grounds maintenance, feeding and watering, and other tasks like helping with rescues. Again, please remember the most important consideration – learning to say “No!” when you have reached your limit. It is a difficult discipline to learn, but a necessary one if you are going to maintain the quality of life for your sanctuary sounder (herd).
Pet Pig Verses Hog
Now here is a touchy subject, because many will even have farm hogs as pets. That is OK and acceptable. What we do need to be reminded of is that a pet is different from an animal that is raised for food or profit. Pets need quality time and attention. Pet pigs are no different. In fact, they may need a little extra quality time and attention. Just because you house or keep a sounder (herd) of pet pigs, do not lose sight of the fact that they are pets.
They each need individual time and attention. They need one-on-one tummy rubs and walks and treats. They need to know they are special. Just like each of our children require so much individual time from us, so do these pigs. Housing, food and protection are just part of what a pet needs to be a real pet. Most of the pet pigs that come to a sanctuary were at one time loved by the people who owned them. They are confused and fearful and they don’t understand why their family has dropped them off or given them up. They wait and wait for their family’s return and then they begin to see you as the one feeding and tending to their needs. A bonding starts to take place, so it is very essential that time is spent building that friendship and trust.
Housing for Your Pigs
Houses and shelters for pigs are like pigs themselves. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Housing can be anything from an oversized dog house or pigloo to a large fancy barn. It can be a condo or duplex and have windows and window boxes just to make it pretty. The important thing is making it weatherproof. That means it should be insulated and have an adequate roof. If you live in northern colder climate, you should have some kind of heat. It can be a heat light or regular heated barns. If you are using heat lights, you need to make sure they are secured safely so that they don’t set the bedding materials on fire or burn the pigs.
One way to check the temperature of the lights is to hang them above the place you want heated and then put a thermometer on top of the bedding. It should not go above 60 degrees. If it does, the light is too close and can cause a fire. Also remember that it should be secured so that it won’t fall down even if it is jostled, and it should go without saying that you will need to make sure the cord is out of reach of the pigs.
Housing for the pigs should be in place before any pig is brought into the sanctuary. Housing should never be an afterthought. Without adequate housing the pigs will suffer needlessly. Sometimes it is more humane to leave the animal where it is while housing is being built, then to bring them in without having a place for them.
Food and Water
Feeding a sounder (or herd) of pigs is a whole lot more costly than just owning one or two pet pigs. In Southwest Florida, the average cost of a twenty-five pound bag of potbellied pig food is about $14.00 depending on where you buy it and the brand name you choose. Multiply that by the number of bags it takes to feed 20 pigs and you are into quite an expense.
Proper feed is important to the pigs for many health reasons. Potbellied pig food is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of the pigs. Dog and cat food are formulated for dogs and cats and do not adequately meet the needs of pigs. In a pinch, horse feed (but not “sweet feed”) may be supplemented on a short term basis, but use it with much caution. Also, fresh vegetables and fruit help to supplement the pet pigs nutritional needs. You may be able to contract with a local grocery store or farm market to pick up their “take-off” vegetables and fruits – that is, produce that is outdated and not salable. .
Water is another very important part of a pig’s life. Not only do they need clean drinking water everyday, but they also need water to lay or bathe in. Remember that a pig does not have sweat glands and bathing in this water is their only way to cool off in extreme hot weather. Children’s wading pools or large rubberized cement mixing tubs are ideal to use in the pig pens. But also remember that you need to keep them clean and free from algae. In extreme cold temperature it may also be necessary to use warm water for their drinking water – or at least to start the day with.
It is essential for the health of a pig to have access to, and to drink, lots of water during the day. But some pigs don’t drink enough when they do have access. This can be caused by several different reasons. One possibility is that they are sick, or they are possibly stressed and fearful of their new surroundings or being with other strange pigs. One way to get around this is by using Jell-O, Gatorade, or any other sports’ drink and pouring it into their water. Apple juice is also sometimes used. Don’t overdo this treat, however, as these drinks are usually full of sugar!
A good veterinarian is a must for any sanctuary. You should take the time and effort to build a good working relationship with one veterinarian, but also have one or two good backups in place. Be sure they have treated potbellied pigs before. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good veterinarian will understand your concern and be willing to answer. If there is no potbellied pig vet close, then seek out a large farm vet or a nearby veterinarian college.
Isoflurane gas is the number one anesthetic. Sometimes this is not practical, but be very sure that you are comfortable with whatever your veterinarian chooses to use. Sometimes a pig is too large and can not be taken to the vet and/or the vet doesn’t have a portable isoflurane gas tank, so an injection type anesthetic has to be used. Some have found that using a mixture of Tealizole and Rompan is the safest for the pigs. The proper “recipe” for potbellied pigs is as follows:
For smaller pigs:
1 mg per 25 lbs of body weight of Tealizole
1 mg per 50 lbs of body weight of Rompan
For larger pigs:
1 mg per every 50 lbs of body weight of Tealizole
1 mg per every 100 lbs of body weight of Rompan
combine both chemicals in the same syringe, and inject into the neck muscle. Wait for at least 5 minutes!
Keep the pig quiet in cool place for 12 hours following the injection, or until they can walk on their own. No food 8 hours prior to the injection or after the procedure until they can walk on their own. DO NOT GIVE ANY TRANQUILIZERS ALONG WITH THE INJECTION! Do not give more than the proper dosage for the pig’s body weight. Some pigs absorb slower than others …give it time but do NOT give more. Always defer to your veterinarian. It is important to provide good health care for the pigs. Working with your veterinarian is the best way to accomplish this.
All boars should be neutered before coming in, or while in, the quarantine pen. It will prevent accidental breeding if you are housing any unaltered sows. With the current overpopulation crisis, rescue organizations should make every effort to educate the public about spaying and neutering of pigs in order to stop unwanted litters of piglets. Also spaying will prevent other health issues such as but not limited to pymetras, tumors and cancers. Vaccinations should be given on a yearly basis until they reach about 6 or 7 yrs old. Then have their titers checked by a veterinary as they sometimes build an immunity up over a few years with the vaccinations. Pigs should be fed a high quality pig chow twice a day and should have fresh water available at all times. Many sanctuary owners over the years now have found that once a day feedings are also very adequate for most pigs if they are health. Being sounder or herd animals, pigs should be in herds where they will not be harmed or harassed by other pigs. New pigs should be separated for at least two weeks until you are completely sure the pig is acclimated to you and your daily routines. When placed in a herd, the new pig should be monitored to ensure he is not hurt by members of the already established herd. Remember that some of the pigs you will get were house pigs and may never have seen another pig. The pig may not know or relate to the fact that it is a pig. This will take time and patience.
It doesn’t matter if we like the idea of euthanizing an animal or not, because sooner or later we have to deal with it. Not every pig coming into a shelter or sanctuary can be saved and so it is best to know in advance how to euthanize a pig with the least amount of stress to the pig or to those running the sanctuary.
Sometimes it is better to give an animal a humane death than to allow a life of suffering and pain. It is a hard decision to make but one that you may have to make. When euthanizing a pig, it is recommended that you anesthetize the pig much as you would when preparing him for surgery. When he is under the influence of the anesthesia, the euthanasia solution can be administered. This way of euthanizing a pig is stress free and humane.
The next problem that occurs after one pig dies, is where to bury it. All zoning laws are different so be sure and check with those in your area. Check not only with the state but with the county and city and EPA as well, or ask your veterinarian when disposing of any dead animal. Your local veterinarian may offer you a cremation service.
Spoiled Rotten House Pig
Many times you will get a pig in that has been raised in the house or at least been mostly in a house. You have to use much caution when integrating his pig into the herd. It is best if you can keep the pig inside and gradually work him to the outside, if that is where you want to keep him. Remember that pigs stress easily and can be traumatized by being forced to live outside for the first time. Some pigs are even afraid of the grass. This becomes a very tedious problem and lots of pigs become so stressed that they just give up and die. A pig that has been raised inside and has never seen another pig can become a problem for your sanctuary if precautions are not taken when the pig first arrives. Each pig coming into a sanctuary should be evaluated and cared for on an individual basis. Each one is different.
It is important for every sanctuary to promote good public relations both in their own neighborhoods and throughout the potbellied pig community. Educating the general public is a must. Most people do not understand the potbellied pig or understand why you would even consider them as a pet. This makes education very important. Ways of accomplishing this is through a monthly newsletter, newspaper articles and personal appearances at fair, schools and other animal related activities. You may want to contact your local library or the board of education and let them know you will be glad to come share in an educational type capacity. The more people know about the pigs and what you are trying to do, will generate more response both with volunteers and with donations.
You should also keep a record of possible adopter’s and stay in contact with them. When they adopt, you will also need to do follow-up visits to make sure all is going well. Be prepared to take the pig back if it doesn’t work out, so don’t be too quick to fill the vacancy at the sanctuary. See paragraph on adoption contracts.
One area to develop is people skills and how to work with volunteers. You will need to build a good volunteer base. You will need to develop a good working relationship with all your volunteers. Remembering that volunteers are people and people like to feel appreciated.
One important factor you should know is that anyone, including sanctuaries, shelters and refuge’s have to have a license by the USDA in order to exhibit an animal off your property. This means that if you use a pig for education at a school, library, county fair, or take tours of the sanctuary animals, then you must by law obtain a license. This is mandated through the Animal Welfare Act and license are control by the USDA. You may contact the USDA for more information in your area.
Creating an Adoption Contract:
You should always contact an attorney before attempting to write your adoption contract. Remember that state laws differ and what is ok in one state, won’t hold up in another state. Also remember that federal laws over rank state laws. What we have found out about contracts is: (USA only)
1. The term “adoption” means to make ones own or to graphed in or to make part of the family.
If a pig(s) is adopted it becomes part of that family and you can’t hold rights to the pig. The pig can be fostered and you can hold rights or there can be a trial period before the final adoption takes place. This can be set by the sanctuary if agreed upon by the adopter.
2. It is our “constitutional right” to privacy and we cannot overwrite the constitution with invasions to that privacy. Even if they sign and agree to let you enter their property, they maintain a constitutional right to stop you at any given time. It is best to ask them to contact you with updates for the first year.
3. Even if they have agreed to return the pig to you if things don’t work out, remember that the pig has been adopted by them, making it their personal property. You might want to think about stating in the contract that if things don’t work out that they return it to you, the previous owner or to another like organization. This is more reasonable and most of the time, they will contact you first anyway.
A Sample adoption contract:
The first part of the contract should include the following:
Name of Organization, Address, Phone Number.
1. I understand that this pig is a companion pet and not a food source. I will provide proper and sufficient food, water, shelter, medical attention, vaccinations, and humane treatment for the pig at all times.
2. I will at no time, allow anyone else at any time, to use the pig for any purpose that is contrary to the health, comfort and well-being of this companion pet pig.
3. I will not sell, give away, or abandon the above-named pig. Add adopter’s Name, Address, Phone Number, Driver’s License Number:
Name and description of Pig being adopted, Age/Date of Birth, Sex and Spayed/Neutered
I understand this is a legal binding contract and I agree to the following terms and conditions: unable or unwilling to properly care for the pig, I will contact the previous owner, or sanctuary, or another appropriate humane society for proper disposition of the pig. I agree to maintain a written record of the placement of the pig.
4. I agree to allow the sanctuary to contact me for the purpose of reviewing the well-being of the pig at least twice in the first year following the adoption.
5. I release and hold harmless the previous owner, sanctuary and their agents or representatives, from all claims, demands, actions, causes of action, or liabilities of any kind whatsoever arising as a result of, in connection with, or related to the adoption or conduct of this pig.
6. I understand that this statement supersedes any and all oral statements made by any owner or representative of this sanctuary or previous owner.
I have read, understand, and agree to the statements above:
Remember that this is a sample only and you can add or subtract statements but be sure to check with an attorney first and foremost.
Property and Zoning:
Do not jeopardize the safety of the pigs by not knowing the zoning laws in your area. Many people find out to late the laws when one to many pigs begin rooting or neighbors complaining or the person who owns the land has changed his mind about rescue animals being housed on his property. Please check local zoning to ensure a rescue shelter for pigs is allowed before taking in a pig.
When you begin a sanctuary without knowing all the laws you jeopardize your own rescue efforts and place the pigs in danger. In a lot of areas, pigs are still considered livestock so if they are confiscated they will be run through a livestock auction and slaughtered. This will not help the pigs in the future nor will it be good for your own reputation. Know the law and don’t endanger the pigs.
What Happens If Something Unforseen Happens to You?
Remember that taking care of pigs is a life long commitment. Also consider that if something happens to you, who will take care of the sanctuary? You should have arrangements made before you start so that the pigs don’t end up being sold at auctions or euthanized should something happen. Make sure the person(s) you have elected are ready to step in at a moment’s notice. This was covered in the paragraph on staffing on page four. Please re-read that paragraph, as it is so very important. It could mean the life of the pigs.
You also may want to investigate endowments to your sanctuary if you have a 501(c)3. Also looking into grants and understanding the Animal Welfare Act. These are a must for any sanctuary, shelter or refuge.
You should also encourage people adopting to put their pig(s) in their will, so that if something unforseen happens, the pig will be taken care of.
One last item on funds. Funds are always going to be needed. You will always be working and thinking of ways to bring in the much needed funds. One very fundamental thought is “sowing seed.” Don’t be afraid to donate to other sanctuaries and rescue groups. It is like sowing seed for your own sanctuary. An old saying is that you reap what you sow, so sow good seed and develop relationships with other sanctuaries and rescue groups so that when you have your back up against a wall and need help, they will know who you are and will know you are a giver and not a taker.
Addendum to booklet
I first wrote and published this booklet back in 1999 and re-published it five times. Today it holds true but we have found over the years that veterinarians have learned more about the care of pet pigs and their proper care. We are constantly learning how to care for them. So be sure to keep in touch with other sanctuary owners, rescue people and most of all the veterinarians who specialize in pet pig care.
Owning a sanctuary is not enough. It is the running of a good stable sanctuary that will count in the end. Know your pigs and know what your property will sustain. It is a know known fact that when housing farm pigs, you should never have over 10 pigs per acre. Because potbelly and other miniature pigs are smaller, you can sometimes care for about 20 per acre. But it entails a lot of additional work. Such as keeping the fields clean and also liming them at least once a year. Failure to do so allows bacteria to build up and can open the door to your pigs getting sick or worse yet, a disease that could cost them their lives.
Also proper fencing in out lying areas, especially if you live in an area where there are lots of feral pigs running at large. If they can’t tear your fences down, they will breed right through the fence if you have intact females. Installing a bearer fence is ideal but not all can afford to do that. So having a high strong fence around the premises and setting up inside pens is ideal. If you can’t do this then install an electrical fence around the premises.
Also have a working relationship with your veterinary so that if a feral boar gets to your females, you can have your females lutalysed to prevent unwanted and unneeded babies. This is vital to any sanctuary and rescue operation for pigs. Here is the formula given to us at our teach symposiums over the years.
You must wait at least 18 days from the day they are bred. Then administer Lutalys at the dosage of 8 mg. per 50# and wait exactly 12 hours and repeat with 5 mg per 50# of body weight on the pigs. Takes 1 to 4 days for abortion to transpire.
Never transport a sick pig any other place except to a veterinary. By doing so you are putting at risk any pig that comes in contact with your pig. Never transport across a state line without the proper blood testing and health certificate. This is very vital if you are transporting a feral anywhere even within state.
This booklet was wrote many years ago but the info is the same. Only prices and cost and number of pigs in sanctuaries have made any significant changes. Also PAPA has been dissolved and Lana Hollenback is now working under FAREC (Forgotten Angels Rescue & Education Center, Inc. )