4 pot-bellied pigs surrendered to SPCA in Vernon highlight 'mini-pig' misconception | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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4 pot-bellied pigs surrendered to SPCA in Vernon highlight 'mini-pig' misconception

Pot-bellied pigs under the care of the BC SPCA.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ BC SPCA

While some might think it is a great idea to buy a baby pot-bellied pig to raise as a pet, many of those pigs end up surrendered to an animal shelter when they get older and bigger.

Leiki Salumets is the B.C. SPCA's provincial manager of equine and farm animal care. She said in the last five years 360 pigs have come into the care of the organization and 118 of those were so-called mini pigs. The organization is looking for pig fosters and pig adopters.

“People don’t realize their baby pigs will grow into large animals that require specific care,” Salumets said. “If they are not set up to provide pigs with the opportunities to carry out natural pig behaviours, the pigs can become disruptive, and they are not easy to foster and adopt out.”

READ MORE: 12 things you need to know before adopting a mini-pig

She said people find out later they are unable to meet the needs of a pig or that their local vet may not be a pig vet or that their municipality doesn’t allow them.

“Pigs can live from ten to twenty years of age,” Salumets said. “On a daily basis we receive calls from people trying to find places to surrender their pigs. We are at capacity with farm animals and have limited resources. There are not many place for them to go.”

The organization usually brings pigs into care from cruelty investigation seizures and surrenders as well as strays from areas where they have municipal contracts.

“Emaciated pigs come in or obese pigs that have mobility issues,” she said. “It takes a journey to get them back to health. They often have health issues, untrimmed hooves and skin conditions.”

READ MORE: A more comfortable goodbye? Vets bring pet euthanasia home

There is often a surge of farm animals needing homes when it starts to get colder, and another one in the spring where animals need help because they have not fared well over the winter.

“It is more challenging to care for farm animals throughout the winter,” Salumets said. “We cover vet bills and neutering and rely on volunteer fosters to give their time and care, cleaning and feeding. Volunteer fosters play a big part, it is quite labour intensive.”

Just last week four pot-bellied pigs arrived at the Vernon shelter in need of homes and they found foster care for the winter, two pigs in Kelowna and two in Salmon Arm, she said. The Vernon branch is not set up to take in any farm animals and this was a rare, emergency situation.

“We prefer to keep pigs together in pairs or groups because they are an intelligent and social species,” she said. “One of these pigs is pregnant and will have a litter any day now so we will have to find homes for them eventually.”

Potential foster volunteers must be able to comply with the Canadian Codes of Practise that outline farm animal care and have the space, secure fencing and other facilities for proper care.

“People who do this work have big hearts,” she said. “It is heartbreaking to see animals arrive in terrible condition but fosters get to see good outcomes. It is emotionally demanding work and these volunteers are very special people. Seeing the recovery process keeps me motivated.”

Salumets has been with the organization since 2008 and has been managing horses and farm animals since 2015.

“Animals have been my passion for my entire life,” she said. “This is my dream. I wake up every day and do my dream job. It is not easy but it is something I care deeply about.”

Pigs available for adoption can be found on the BC SPCA website here.

This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct.19, 2021 to clarity that farm animals cannot be surrendered to the Vernon SPCA shelter.


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