Pigs have such amazing bonds with each other, forming friendships, hierarchies and more. They feel pain, and mourn the loss of a friend. This includes the loss of their human friends when they are surrendered as rescues. It takes a long time for most pigs to regain trust in a relationship with a new person.
We began our journey with “mini” pigs in 2013 before the Sanctuary officially began (“mini” is a loose description of pigs under about 300lbs). House pig Hazel Marie was surrendered to the MSPCA Nevins because the family stated in the surrender papers that they “did not have time for her anymore”. She is a big pig at 225lbs, and a bored large housepig was probably destructive. The cuteness of baby pigs, and the profuse assurances of pig breeders that pigs will stay small sends many people toward the purchase of a pig as a “pet”. I have met a handful of amazing people with pigs as their cherished companion animals - people who truly understood what commitments they were making.
Brighter than dogs, but motivated differently (strongly by food not only affection), pigs are not a simple house pet. They need a chance to root in the dirt, a very natural instinct, or they will root in the rug and the couch. Kitchen cabinets and the trash cans are a playground. They have an exquisite sense of smell hundreds of times better than ours (and plenty of teeth).
Some of the surrender requests we receive happen when a couple with a 4 or 5 year old house pig wish to re-home the pig before a baby human arrives. Or the person with the pig has to move and does not find a place to live where the pig can live too. In our state Massachusetts, all pigs are classified as farm animals, and many towns have farm animal ordinances.
Our small pigs are Hazel Marie, Rue, George, Tofu and Lunchbox. They each live in their own barn and paddock, because they fight when they are tested (repeatedly) over time for living together. None of them grew up with other pigs after the first couple weeks of their lives. They do have many feathered friends for company.
Our large pigs are Penny Blossom, Osa, Leona, Danny Boy and Amelia. They sleep together for warmth and companionship, love to root in the ground, lay in the sun in the winter, and in the mud puddles in the summer (did you know that pigs cannot regulate their heat with sweating?). https://www.unityfarmsanctuary.org/animal-profiles/Pigs
It is National Pig Day today, March 1. We hope your daily choices are kind and cruelty free.
The classic book "Charlotte's Web"
Photo, top: Osa, Leona and Danny Boy
Photo, below: Rue