Thousands Of Pigs Left Homeless Amid Craze For Tiny Pet Swine

Whether it’s kittens, lizards, puppies or cockatoos, humans just love their pets. But often when one species has a spike in popularity, many pets are left without homes once the craze dies down, and folks realize it’s not always easy raising an animal. You know, because animals have a tendency to eat a lot, and grow, things many pig owners weren’t expecting when they bought their pets.

The teacup pig fad isn’t entirely new, points out the Associated Press, having first popped up a few decades ago, only to be revived now and then. The trouble is, breeders and online sellers employ a tricky tactic, telling would-be pet owners that if they feed their new porkers only a certain amount, they won’t get much bigger after they turn one, and will stay small.

Many times that just isn’t true, and the animals demand more and more food, growing larger and larger. If they don’t eat enough, and eat the proper food for, they’ll starve.

One former pet owner found that out the hard way when the mini pig she brought home started raiding her kitchen and digging through the trash. She’d been told by a breeder to only feed it a half-cup of food twice a day. When she took him to the veterinarian, the doctor said her piglet was acting up because he was starving.

She’d been told he would only grow 12 inches tall, but instead, he grew to 20 inches and 180 pounds. Her husband couldn’t handle it anymore she says, telling her, “Either the pig goes or I go.”

The pig ended up at a rescue home, something that’s been happening a lot these days. Shelters are becoming overcrowded, and some sanctuaries have had to put limits on how many pigs they can take.

“There are not enough homes out there anymore. These pigs are in big trouble,” the operator of Lil’ Orphan Hammies pig rescue told the AP.

She’s saved 1,000 pigs since the rescue started 23 years ago, and gets 20 calls a day from people trying to find a new home for their pigs.

It’s definitely not easy out there for a pet porker: Anna Key, vice president of the North American Potbellied Pig Association, estimated that 90% of pigs adopted in the U.S. end up at a rescue or a sanctuary.

Though breeders claim restricted diets can keep pigs tiny because they’re learning to eat less (which sounds awful), rescues say they’re just getting emaciated and losing muscle mass.

“I have never seen a full-grown, healthy, 35-pound pig live to maturity,” the owner of a Pennsylvania farm rescue told the AP.

Pet porkers pack rescues as trendy teacup pigs fatten up [Associated Press]