Thinking About Starting a Shelter or Rescue?
Here Are Some Guidelines for Providing Safety for Rescued Pigs.
With the population of homeless Vietnamese potbellied pigs rising, many individuals and pig enthusiast
clubs have begun rescue efforts and/or have begun setting up shelters to house these animals. For many
individuals and clubs, the job of providing adequate shelter for these animals has itself become a problem.
We have seen many rescue efforts fail and rescued pigs have suffered as a result. PIGS, a sanctuary, has
developed the following guidelines for people interested in providing safety for rescued pigs while avoiding
costly and dangerous mistakes.
Taking in homeless pigs is a long-term commitment as appropriate homes are becoming harder and harder to find.
There is no guarantee that a home will be found once you take in a pig. Once a pig has been rescued, the rescuer
or rescue organization is responsible for providing a safe environment for the pig. The rescued animal now depends
on you for food, water, and appropriate shelter. Providing for these animals can be physically, emotionally, and
financially exhausting. Our experience has been that people who begin rescuing pigs alone are almost certainly
doomed to failure, because of the overwhelming number of people needing assistance with pigs and an inability of
the rescuer to say no when resources are already stretched. A general rule of thumb we follow at the outset is:
Start slow and think small. Finding financial support for your efforts is a long, arduous process. If you cannot
financially provide for the animals yourself DO NOT begin rescuing or sheltering pigs. As a club effort, establish
set schedules as to who will feed, water, clean pens, and take care of the pigs. Set schedules will help avoid
confusion and burnout. We suggest a weekly schedule with set times for morning and evening feedings. REMEMBER:
Potbellied pigs may live as long as fifteen years and when you take in a homeless pig, you are taking on an
enormous commitment involving time, money, and emotions. Know your limits and stay safely within them.
Property and Zoning:
In order to provide pigs with a safe environment, the property should be owned by the rescuer or rescue organization. Many people have begun shelters on rented property only to find themselves without a place once "one too many pigs" begin rooting or neighbors begin 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. KNOW THE LAWS -- LOCAL, STATE, FEDERAL. We are aware of people rescuing pigs in areas where pigs are not permitted. This jeopardizes your rescue efforts at the outset and places the pigs in danger. In some areas, pigs are considered livestock and will not be humanely euthanized at the local shelter if confiscated. The pigs will be run through a livestock auction and slaughtered. Do not endanger an animal by not knowing the law.
We do not encourage or endorse the keeping of pigs as full-time house pets as this has been the number one reason
for pigs becoming homeless. Rescue organizations should not permit the adoption of pigs as full-time house pets as
this continues the cycle of misplaced pigs.
Pigs must be protected from the elements. Proper housing will permit the animal to stay dry during rain, warm
during the cold months, and will provide the pig with a sense of safety and well-being. A pig's sleeping area
is his safe place and every effort should be made to ensure his comfort. We provide straw in the winter. In the warm months, we provide the pigs with shade.
We do not recommend "dog igloos" for the cold months and pet carriers are not appropriate housing for
pigs. The pigs are provided a child's wading pool for cooling off or a mud puddle for wallowing in the warm
months. In our experience, pigs seem to prefer a mud puddle when the weather is consistently hot. For fencing,
we recommend hog panel. Chain link or other types of fencing must be secured at ground level to keep pigs from
going under it. We have never had a pig root under a fence -- however, a pig will try to lift it up to go under
it. Pens should be large enough for several large pigs to run around and play and to seek solitude away from
herdmates. Avoid overcrowding.
We recommend neutering of all boars as this will prevent accidental breeding if you are housing any unaltered
sows. With the current over-population 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. Vaccinations should
be given on a yearly basis and a qualified veterinarian should be available to aid in your health care efforts.
Pigs should be fed a high quality pig chow twice a day and should have fresh water available at all times. Being
herd animals, pigs should be in herds where they will not be harmed or harassed by other pigs. We recommend
keeping new pigs separated for at least two weeks or 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.
All rescue organizations must deal with euthanizing animals. Euthanasia is necessary because NOT
ALL PIGS CAN BE SAVED and euthanasia is sometimes the only humane option. It is better to give an animal a humane
death than a life of suffering in an inhumane living situation or a violent death in a slaughterhouse. When
euthanizing a pig, we recommend anesthetizing 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. Local ordinances should be checked and adhered to when disposing
of dead pigs.
PIGS, a sanctuary, was established to provide abused, abandoned, and
neglected miniature and exotic pigs with a safe haven and to serve as
an educational center on the abuses of the exotic livestock industry.
For more information on the proper care of homeless pigs, please contact
us at PIGS, 1112 Persimmon Lane, Shepherdstown, WV 25443
or phone/fax: 304-876-6766, or email to: FarmManager@pigs.org.