Forms for re-homing

   Safety Checklist

   Placement Agreement

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Pig Rescue & Re-homing Guide

Where to Start

What can sanctuaries do?

What it's like for a pet pig to go to a new home?

What it costs a sanctuary to take in another pig

Considering some other ways to solve a problem

Risks of re-homing

Field trapping a stray pig

Safe transportation

The National Rescue; A guide to the Impossible Save

Sanctuaries are all full and brimming over with unwanted pigs. In today's economic climate many have failed. Others have closed for lack of public interest. The few left are not able to continually take on more little ones in need. pigs live long lives and sanctuaries have filled up in the last 10 years. Unlike dog and cat rescues, our sanctuary, like many other sanctuaries does not adopt and we are a  "no kill" organization. We do not kill the old and arthritic or those with expensive medical needs to make room for younger healthy pigs. Your pig is very special to you and we want to help him secure a good life for the rest of his days, but we cannot keep adding to the numbers or we too will collapse. So we ask that you think carefully about what you need in the way of help and work hard with us to find him security and safety

What sanctuaries can and can't do

Sanctuaries provide permanent homes. As a rule this takes up their entire day and all the budget. Most cannot drive several hours and set up a field trap or take your pig to a vet for spaying, then drive hours again to fetch the pig back to the sanctuary and watch over the healing process, then return her to you or place her in a foster home. There simply isn't time enough in a day.  Some sanctuaries have programs and volunteers to help with rescues, some don’t. But it is not the normal work of sanctuaries. Sanctuaries provide lifetime care after they have been rescued, vetted and transported.  Our Helping Hoof program may be able to help your pig in other ways when sanctuary space is not available.

 

What it's like for a pet pig to go to a new home

Pigs are very territorial animals. What you envision after viewing a website like ours of pigs in a field, living in harmony in a group, can take many long months to achieve with a new pig. Many people think a pig will adjust to a new situation readily and happily. Few do. Unlike dogs, who will accept love from any one who is willing to offer it,  pigs have bonds with their human companions that are deep and all important to them. A new person to them is like a new person to you.. a stranger. And a sanctuary may seem like a haven of delights to you, and we are very proud of our sanctuaries, they serve a real need, but when a house pig is introduced to it, with all the other pigs who want nothing more than to bully him, he is not going to welcome this change. Imagine having been raised in a loving home for most of your life, your mom feeds you and talks to you and rubs your belly and covers you up with a blanket at night. She is your life.. You have your own bed with that special quilt and the cat who cuddles with you. Then one day you are dumped at a strange place full of pigs who want to beat you up and have to sleep in a barn with not a word from your mom ever again. Everything that had been your life is gone. Everything. Your home, your bed, you family.  You are an outcast, at the bottom of the pecking order; life is not good

For the pig to be moved into a sanctuary, no matter how wonderful it is or how well run, is a trauma. The older the pig the greater the difficulty he will suffer. Some older pigs have been known to die from the heartbreak of being cut off from everyone and everything they knew.  The bonds they make with humans, because they were deprived as piglets of making the same bonds with others of their kind, are lifetime bonds. Its part of their emotional makeup, just as it is with humans. We humans created these bonds when we took baby pigs and made them part of our households, and now that they are no longer wanted, responsible people need to take every possible avenue to reduce this suffering we are causing them.

Finding a smaller. less demanding home may be in his best interests, though the emotional trauma will only be softened, not eliminated. A prospective private home should be aware that a pig thrust into their lives from a loving home of many years, will often be depressed or angry and may suddenly begin biting or destroying the place.. "acting out" his emotional pain.  

Yes, most will adjust. It just takes time and patience.

 

What it costs a sanctuary to take in another pig

The person who you will reach,  will very likely be tired and financially on the edge of a cliff,  and not particularly sympathetic to  your story of divorce or moving.  Most sanctuary owners work 12 or more hours a day tending to the pigs and raising the funds to feed them and care for them. Or trying to rush between a day job and tending them after the sun goes down. So we aren't being hostile, we are just tired and unable to solve the problem of yet another needy pig.

 And if by some chance we could tend yet another hapless pig for the next 15 or more years,  there is the expense. Are you planning to pay for his upkeep?  If you were wanting a sanctuary to "take" your pig, how will they support him?  It costs us $300 a year to take care of a potbellied pig in good health. I currently care for over 300 and pay support on dozens more in private sanctuaries.  The years after 12 are often very expensive ones, as arthritis and dental care begins, and whatever disease ultimately claims them at the end of their life will usually require a good deal of vet expense.  And a backhoe costs us $200 to dig a grave. 

Where does funding come from?  There is no magic to raising money. This morning, as every morning,  I started at 4 Am to get in 4 hours of admin work before the sanctuary day begins. Every day, 365 days a year we fit together all the little pieces of the funding puzzle, every newsletter, this web site, every letter of thanks, every grant proposal... Often people think "someone" funds us. Some government agency or the state or someone else. There are no such funding programs for pig sanctuaries. None.  We do endless grant proposals, some taking 30 to 40 hours to prepare, submitting them to foundations who have 1000 proposals for every grant they can give and I can tell you, the chances of a foundation funding a pig sanctuary fall somewhere between rarely and never. Mostly we sell everything we own, take bigger and bigger mortgages and go into more and more debt every year.

We support our hundreds of unwanted pig-children by the kindness of strangers who send in $5 or $25 as a gift of charity, by providing Internet services, and putting on fundraisers like yard sales and bake sales.  It takes a lot of cookies to pay our $90,000 of expenses here every year. 

 When pigs are coming from private homes we hope they can pay their own expenses. It can help to pave the way to finding them a safe foster or permanent placement. These wonderful private homes and fosters do the “blood, sweat & tears” hard work and we fund the expenses they incur.  So expenses are always a concern. We have never turned down a pig because of his lack of a checkbook, but we are rarely able to take one now because of that policy.

Consider ways to raise $25 in your budget every month, it's not so difficult.. a few less trips to fast food joints, a coke a day for a couple of weeks, turning off the dryer in the summer or the cable TV options. If giving up some TV is all it takes to save the life of your little pig person, that is a pretty easy decision make, isn't it? But when you make that comittment, make it seriously.. your life will change as the years go by but his expenses will continue every week of every year until his life is over.

Consider some of the other ways to solve the problem

Moving:  If you are moving, have you tried to find a place where you CAN take your pig? In TN potbellied pigs are accepted in every city and town. It's the law. Often city managers don't know  that and tell people they are not permitted in the city, but once shown the law, they know better.   Do you perhaps just need someone to transport him for you? Or board him while you get settled? Or help fence your new yard?  All these things can often be arranged, and you and your piggy can be together in the new home after a transitional period.

Travel a lot in your new job?  Contact your local shelter for names of reliable pet sitters. Contact local college community service groups. Ask for help from the nearest sanctuary in finding good help, even volunteer help can be found.

Aggression : If you are wanting to place him because he is aggressive: Are you keeping him inside? If so, he will get either aggressive or depressed or both before he's 3 years old. Fix the yard to give him lots of space to explore and a nice warm house and boot his butt outside for the day. Even let him live outside if you have the right facility there for him We can help with advice on building or fencing to keep him safe and happy. For special cases we can even help with materials to build a fence or provide a loaner doghouse until you can get one or build one. Depending where you live we can even get one built for you (wholesale) and deliver it. Get him a companion pig for outdoors from any sanctuary near you and he will have the company he needs to work out his emotional frustrations. Someone of his own kind to talk to.

Divorce:   Divorce is a life change that doesn't have to be a life ending experience for your pig. As hard as it may be to do, take stock of your situation and realize that it may not warrant the panic mode that it feels like. What really HAS to change and can that change include the piggy as well? Maybe you only have to change the life style he and you have had as you get into the work force .. or have to travel more. Think positively and focus on the well being of those who depend on you. He will adjust far better to changes in your home than to being shipped off to some strange place. Call us, we can help with suggestions, moving him, boarding him while you get settled in and setting up an area for him.. .

Children Grown up and gone: A pig is a living, thinking, feeling child, not outgrown clothes. He has needs. And will be much happier to have the family of adults as his companions as he matures.  Adults, especially retired adults give the best homes.. they are often home more, have more discretionary time and are more sensitive to the emotional needs of the pig. Some sanctuaries have programs to help your pig become a happy companion in your home.

Have you tried to place your pig yourself? If you take the time to check out all the calls and be sure he will have everything he needs and be safe from danger, sometimes you can place him in a loving local home. Use great care to visit personally and don't be shy about telling people what is wrong in their environment for a pig's safety. (And most of these people will be told "No", they can't provide for him properly)  Most callers will not be the kind of home you want.. many will be simply wanting a pig because its "cool", many have dogs that will kill the pig the minute they turn their back and many want them to eat. In this part of the country the main place they wind up is at hunting preserves, used for target practice... and it may not be the one you gave the pig to but the next or next person who got him.. adult pigs are not wanted by most people who get them and usually end up dead soon after being given away. .. so be VERY careful. If you do find a good home be sure to tell them that the pig will go into depression when he is moved and they will have to deal with his sadness. He isn't going to be "grateful" that he is given this new home, no matter how wonderful it is.  If possible, visit him weekly to help bridge the transition. (Same if you end up taking him to a sanctuary, a weekly or even monthly visit will do wonders for his adapting) .Give the new home our web site or another's so they can find answers when they have problems too. Print off the A Pig in Your Home checklist  to make sure they understand what to expect. And you may want to use our home check guide to be sure the home meets standards of safety. This form was developed to take the "personal" out of the evaluation and make it easier to look past a nice person to see a bad home.. Too often the case. Our Home Check form:

 

Most of the sanctuaries will help you place your pig . using their experience and doing home checks or giving you potential homes to check out yourself after they have done a phone screening. They can also often offer assistance with reduced rates for spaying and neutering, guidance on where to find safe transportation and sometimes provide added services.  And be sure you put it in writing that if the pig does not work out or is for any reason in the future they cannot keep him they should contact you. Then you can guide his future safety. Call the sanctuaries and this time there may be room.

Other Options to Consider

Boarding: many horse farms are all but closed down as horses become an economic burden on families without work. These horse farms often have stud pens that are not in use. Big roomy paddocks with a stall can make a short term or even medium term safe home for your pigs. Add some hay, food and water and a large animal vet and the pig is safe while you work on longer term solutions,

FFA and other school organizations. Many kids would like to participate in animal care projects but have the sensitivity that makes raising animals for slaughter distasteful. Ask the county agents in your area who in the community might be interested in a pig who is not a slaughter animal but has many of the same needs for care. Check them out. Kids grow up.. be sure your pig has a safety "tether" attached to you if this doesn't work out long term

Check with Wildlife rehab organizations. Sometimes they are remote and have lots of space.. a piggy or two can be housed safely with about any of our regions wildlife. (By housed I mean on the same property where animals are hacked out to return to the wild, not in an enclosure with them) .. possum, raccoons, fox, coyotes, raptors.. none of these present any real risk to an adult pig. Short or medium term, these places, for a small donation every month to help with their primary mission, can make am excellent choice. Usually these people have a good exotic vet available.  

Contact area humane societies and ask about volunteers who might have pigs or have pig experience and be willing to help with your pig short term.

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is only a guess.. if you can solve today's problem, your pig may get all the help he needs. Be sure you are on the waiting list for a sanctuary opening if that is going to be needed in the future

Risks of re-homing

In TN and many of the southern states there are some atrocities that involve pigs every day. But don't think because you live in a progressive northwestern state that the same things cannot happen. Always be alert to red flags and it will keep your pig safe.

If you are trying to place your pig or are acting as a placement agency for someone's pig,  here are some things to consider when talking with prospective homes:

  • Never put pigs in free ads like Craig's list or on Petfinder unless you can do all the home checking and can sort out the good from the nightmare in a single home check and a follow up visit.  Back to nature magazines run stories on how to get free food for the table by watching for free pigs, goats and other livestock and poultry in need of homes.
  • Do not even consider for a millisecond placing a pig in a home you haven't personally visited.. no matter how nice they seem, no matter who they say they work with.. or what they say their interest in pigs is.. ALWAYS check them out. They can be good people just trying to bypass red tape .. or they can be terrible people.  Here are a few examples we have encountered in our placement work over the years, either personally or by people working with us directly. None of these are "word of mouth" legends.. they are all first person experiences. We run ads for placements in many local TN newspapers and have talked to many people .. from a gal wanting pet pigs to turn loose on her sanctuary (it turns out it is a wolf sanctuary and the wolves needed food/entertainment) to kindly ladies who want a pig for their grandkids.. when checked out it was  a hunting preserve in one case and someone using these pets for dog food in another.
  • The biggest business involving pigs in TN is canned hunts.. for which hundreds of pigs are smuggled illegally into TN from GA and FL every year to be shot or killed by bow and arrow by "hunters" often seated in chairs as the animals are penned in front of them. These are  popular in TN and growing. (Recently an acquaintance of ours observed a buffalo being slowly and  torturously killed by hundreds of arrows plugged into him by beer guzzling "men" if you can call them that.  Pot bellies are snatched up as soon as ads hit the paper for "free to good home".. and these once pampered pets are turned into arenas and killed. Some ads are blatant in papers.. "We take  all pigs" reads one. Be aware that Preserve usually means they are to be hunted.  Our TN laws say you cannot kill a potbellied pig but without enforcement they kill them  in huge  numbers.  Does anyone really think these are "Wild pigs"? Of course not. The people who participate in these "hunts" are not interested in hunting.. just killing.. its for the thrill of hearing the screams and seeing the agony of death.   You cannot tell by talking to someone what kind of place it is.. or what their intentions are.. Without a comprehensive interview, vet references and  that all important home check.. you are putting the pigs at risk..  most often the callers are women who tell you they want a pig for their grandkids..
  • Right behind the atrocity of canned hunts are hog/dog rodeos where pigs are torn apart by dogs for the fun of watching it.. They are first bound so that they cannot fight back then tossed into a ring with pit bulls.  Considered a family entertainment among the lower classes, this recently was criminalized but stopping it will be like stopping cock fighting, also illegal.  Do you think potbellies aren't used? Think again.. I saw video of one in Alabama before the law was passed there.. . a pet pig that could have been on your lap a week before was being ripped apart by dogs.
  • Dog food   We have people who answer ads, always nice women by the voices and stories.. who take pigs and slaughter them for their dogs' food.   They usually start out with "my grandson wants a pig" or "I have always wanted a pet pig".. and until you do some serious drilling down by asking for their PBpig vet's name, what they plan to feed them, what their fences and housing is like.. etc etc.. do you uncover some problems.
  • Human food       We know of several attempts to "adopt" by people who find free to good home ads mean free food on their tables. This is promoted by such well respected magazines as Mother Earth News and others of the "back to nature" type. Free pets cook up just as well as supermarket meats. They also take in any other livestock animals. One woman was going to all the shelters in the middle part of the state telling them she had a "rescue"  for farm animals. Fortunately a couple of the animal shelters  called me and we found out what was going on before any more were released to her. (This is a common practice everywhere, we uncovered a couple in Michigan a few years ago  that charge a fee to take an unwanted farm animal in, for its lifetime care, then sell it to slaughter .. a nasty little business venture but not illegal. ).
  • 5)Good people, bad homes..  this is where so many arrive. Well meaning "placement " people who see the numbers, not the animals.. "we placed 145 pigs last year!!"  they announce.  And our sanctuary eventually will have to take in most of those who survive. Adult pigs are not good pets. And people dump them. That's the fact.  When new private homes have no education on care, are misled by marketing that says they are "just like dogs" and can be walked on leashes and kept in crates.. or put into homes with a yard full of dogs  who "are very sweet" and love all their other pets.. homes with horses and other livestock dangers.. homes with no fences, weak fences, right next to big dogs, homes with no grazing space or shade.. you name it,  we see it..  Dogs are a pigs natural enemy and no matter how long a pig and dog reside together that fact is always present.. the pig is a prey animal and subject to be killed at any time by any dog. Horses hate the smell of a pig and often, in their fear, kill them. The list of risks to these poor pigs goes on and on.

It is a rare home that can provide a decent life for a pig. It is up to you and I  to make sure we place him in that home.. and not one where his life , health and happiness are in jeopardy.  We get reports weekly of pigs in bad homes.  But the final  Responsibility for these pigs rests with all of us who put them into a home. Even places called sanctuaries are not always safe.  We have taken in hundreds from abuse cases where "sanctuaries" and " rescues" went sour and the places were shut down, but not before many of the animals suffered and died before that happened.  Its an unregulated business and anyone can call themselves a sanctuary. Do your homework.. check them out personally and with vet references. Make sure they are registered with the State as well as the IRS. Be sure to  LOOK at their records.. see how long pigs live there, what kind of health care they have had.. don't buy "the computer isn't working", the "files were all lost when we moved" , or my favorite" oh he has always been like that" when asked why a pig was symptomatic of disease. Reputable sanctuaries keep extensive records, paper, backup disks.. records are not "lost" by responsible businesses. .. if they don't have records.. take your pig and run.

We will help you with placements. We do not place pigs into unknown private homes. We work with our own list of Shepherds Green members who have been caring for and rescuing and fostering pigs for many years.  

Field trapping a stray pig

If you need to catch a pig that's running loose, here are the basics:

    1. Friendly, touchable pig? If so, lure him with food .. grapes, candy bits.. bread cubes.. into a barn lot, stall, garage or other solid, closeable space. Obtain a large crate (should be big enough he can turn around in it)  from the local animal shelters or rescues and place it along one wall, about 4 feet from the corner. Open the door so that it makes a "wing" on the side away from the wall. Have someone hold a wire gate or piece of plywood or even a heavy blanket out from the "wing" door to add to the V formation you are trying to create. The V should be open until he is nearly inside it, then close it up and encourage him into the crate. (Try first to see if he will go in for food but its not likely).

    2. Not friendly or very skittish? Use the same method but expect the process to take several days if he is not wanting to be caught. Place some loose hay at the opening the first day so he will be near the building, then the next day move it in a few feet.. Put dry dog food inside in a couple small piles .. Keep working him in until you can close it up and catch him.

    3. No buildings to use? OK.. its  catch pen time. Contact us for an experienced filed catch person to help you. If none available here's how it goes. Buy or borrow a dog kennel of the heavy duty type or you can sue three pig panels, (regular light weight chain link won't hold up under his assault and once you try and fail with him, you may not get another chance.  Set it up near where he has been seen. You want to make it a long narrow pen if possible. With a square pen, once captured go to the top of this list for getting him in a crate. A long narrow pen will make you a "chute" that means he has no choice when being driven but to go in, IF the crate is placed and held by two strong people so he cannot push through or leap over it. Getting him into the pen:

      1. Place a big pile of hay on the corner furthest from the gate.

      2. Cover the corner with a tarp (top and sides) and secure it with zip ties. Use a smaller tarp to drape down to make a "wall" inside, about 3 feet from the end of the pen so he has a little cave to get into, one where he cannot see the gate at the other end.

      3. Place food and water in the middle of the pen or close to the gate end.

      4. Keep checking daily to see if he is going in and sleeping in the hay. Once he is, slip in there very quietly at night and close up the pen. Put a large quantity of food inside for the morning.

      5. Get a couple people to help catch and load him.

 

 

Safe transportation

Transporting safely is one of the more difficult tasks with pigs. I have seen pigs:

    • break through a van window, shattering the glass to escape from a moving vehicle

    • Jump 4 feet straight up in the air to go over barricades or the back door of a horse trailer

    • Multiple pigs will use each others bodies to make a pyramid to climb up and out a horse trailer door

    • Pigs are incredibly strong and determined to be free.. a combination that makes them harder to confine than a 2000 pound bull.

    • Pigs will die or suffer lifelong disabilities from heat stress if moved in temperatures too hot and get lung disease from being moved in temperatures too cold.

    • Pigs are often unable to cope with a lot of stress and the sounds and smells of the highway mean many die if moved in crates in a truck bed.

    • They can climb over the seats in your car and land in your lap; an hysterical 180 pound pig does not make a good co-pilot

    • handmade barricades, plastic and wire cages are invitations for injuries too numerous to mention. (Warning: plastic cuts are the most deadly, as the broken edge of plastic is ragged and tears the flesh instead of cutting it)

So, how to transport them safely.

    • In a large crate: big enough to turn around in; inside a vehicle with air conditioning to keep it cool. Wear a sweater when hauling pigs as they cannot tolerate heat when stressed. About 60 to 65 degrees is good.

    • In a horse trailer where the openings above the walls are

      1. over 4 feet above ground level  (or)

      2.  reinforced by welded mesh or rods (or)

      3. too small for the pig to get through (and)

      4. Temperature should not get outside the 45 to 70 degree range for the duration of the trip. Check temps INSIDE the trailer for safety. It can get very hot even with the vents.

      5. Plenty of hay and a heavy rubber mat under it to cushion the hard ride

      6. A ramp to load/unload them without stress

    • Loose in a cargo van with heavy mats and a driver protection door or barricade (most are equipped) This is a good choice for multiple pigs. Put down a tarp, cover with rubber mats or a sheet or two of cardboard and add heavy blankets. Carry the ramp with you, placed where they can walk through it so they don't get hurt with it. Keep temperature cool and they will travel almost stress free. The cost of renting a cargo van is under $100. A very inexpensive way to make one important trip.

By planning and being patient and careful, you will always have a safe trip.

 

And for those angels of mercy who tackle the national or regional rescue of scores of abused,neglected or abandoned pigs:

Our guide to the Impossible Save.