“To pig or not to pig? That is the question.” If “to pig” then where do I start looking for a pig? What about size and veterinarians? Shouldn’t I go to a breeder for all my answers? If I adopt a pig, how will I know it’s age and temperament or even how big it will get?
Most new “wanna be” pig parents aren’t even aware that adoption is an option, but when it is mentioned, all kinds of questions start popping up. So before I begin my answer, let me make it clear that I am not against good reputable breeders. Now there’s a new term for you. What is a “reputable breeder?”
A reputable breeder knows his or her pigs and doesn’t over-breed or inbreed. They will never lie about the size or the possibility of how big the pig may get. A reputable breeder is always willing to work with the buyer and is even willing to take the pig back, if for any reason it just doesn’t work out. Since so many pigs are winding up in sanctuaries, going to slaughter houses, being put down by humane societies, or just being dumped; a bigger burden is now placed on the breeder. Many breeders are now working both as a controlled breeder and as a rescuer. I, for one, would hate to see breeding stopped, but would like to see the unethical and backyard breeders put out of business. If it were not for a breeder, I would not have my potbelly pig, Gordy.
There will always be a market for good breed stock for showing as long as there are potbellied pig shows. But reputable breeders will also make you aware of the option of adopting some of the “throwaway” pigs. The cost of adopting is usually less expensive than buying registered stock. Most of the time sanctuaries, rescue groups and breeders will only charge for the neutering or spaying that has to be done prior to adopting. Some will even help with this cost if they believe you will supply a good long-term home for the pig.
If you adopt, most likely you will be asked to sign an adoption agreement, similar to the ones most Humane Societies have you sign. Most sanctuaries and rescue groups will want to inspect where you live to be sure that you have adequate housing and/or fencing for the pig. This is not unreasonable when you realize how many pigs get returned by unprepared pig owners. If you plan on an inside pig, you even need to pig-proof your house much like child-proofing for a small child. The adopter may ask to do a couple of inspections after you have the pig to be sure all is going well. This is done to head off any problems that may arise and so that you and your pig adjust well with each other. You may also be asked to return the pig to where you adopted it, should it not work out, or at least to a similar organization. This way it is easy to keep track of the pig in question. These kind of stipulations are for the pig’s protection and also for yours so that you don’t become frustrated and just dump the pig somewhere.
Most sanctuaries and rescue groups also know the pig and can help determine if it is right for you and your family. Sometimes this is not possible, so a lot of guess work goes into it and may need more follow ups to be sure things are working out.
If you want a baby pig, sooner or later each sanctuary will receive in pigs that are pregnant, so the option of adoption is still there. If you are looking just for a pet for the family or yourself and you are not planning on showing the pig in a national show, then still consider adoption first. If you want to show but are not fussy about the type of show, you may still adopt and register it as a pet through a couple of different organizations which also sponsor pet shows although they don’t have categories like confirmation and such. Also it is not unusual for a sanctuary to get in registered pigs.
If you are an “old hand” at pigs and understand them well, then consider adopting a pig that is a handicapped or a hard-to-place pig. One that may or may not have an attitude problem. Pigs with attitudes are a whole different topic. I’m a firm believer that they have such strong feelings that when they have been with a family for 2 or more years and are then discarded, they tend to get angry and or grieve for long periods of time. Somewhat like children who end up in orphanages and grow up with attitudes. Most can be overcome with lots of love and tender loving care.