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Potbellied Pig Health Care Articles and Information

Sanctuary / Rescue Vs Collector
by Phyllis Battoe (March 2002)

Much has been heard about rescues closing, humane societies impounding pigs and pigs in trouble. One has to ask, "What is the problem?" Is it the number of pigs? We have always had pigs with no homes. We will continue to have pigs with no homes, but the numbers of pigs in need, especially in the Southern States, is overwhelming.

Having been an abuse investigator for almost 40 years now, there is no problem seeing the red flags of danger as they go up.

The "Collector" is no friend of the pig, just as they are no friend of dogs and cats no matter how well meaning they may appear. They show up in all breeds and all species and are cleaned up over and over again.

Impounding those unfortunate enough to be left in their care does not cure collectors. That is part of the cycle of the collector. To collect beyond their means to care for, then be cleaned up by the local Humane Societies or another rescue group, only to do it again.

The other part of the problem is people that enable these collectors to continue. Without your moral support and your financial support they could not get a good start doing this.

In the dog world and cat world these people are seen as what they are very quickly, not saviors of the animal, but collectors that do not have the means or the abilities to do what they are doing.

Why is this true in dogs and cats and not pigs? Because there are few organizations for pigs compared to the other. Because the pig community is small and the people haven't learned how to tell the difference between rescues, sanctuaries and collectors. Unfortunately as they are learning, the animals caught in the middle are the ones to suffer.

Our pig community also works under pressure and most of the time think that anyone who will take a pig has to be a good thing. We have all heard the same song... "What about the pigs if we don't help or don't take advantage of a place offering to take in pigs?" Or "gosh they seem to really love pigs." Or "how can you say you're worried about this wonderful person who wants nothing but to save poor pigs."

You have some concerns with a place, but continue to help anyway and as time goes on the numbers of pigs at risk rises. With this kind of thinking the stage is set for disaster.

A collector has a profile that appears to be cast in stone. They are usually under financial strain in their own life and for various reasons are not working. They don't always own their own homes and do not have facilities to do rescue or sanctuaries work. They are the most vocal about loving the animals and not being able to turn one away yet are the first to admit that they cannot afford vet care for the ones they have.

Any time that a person can't afford vet care for what they have, they should not be given more to handle. When you hear that they can take some pigs, but they need money to keep them...that's a red flag.

Guess this needs clarification as we are not talking the established, tried and true, sanctuaries or someone that will take one pig as a favor, but may need help getting ready for it. This flag is for the person that is calling themselves a sanctuary or a want a be sanctuary who absolutely cannot function without financial help from the outside.

Calling a collector a rescue or sanctuary is about the same as calling a puppy mill a dog rescue.

Collectors tend to not neuter and spay as this is considered "extra" on their care agenda. Collectors usually have trouble just giving the basic care of food and water. Would it shock you to know that more unwanted baby pigs are being born at so called sanctuaries than breeders are putting out there yearly. This should be UNACCEPTABLE to the pig world!

Numbers and acreage is another clue. Overcrowding of pigs is not only unsanitary and disease forwarding, but also just poor animal husbandry. Ratio of pigs per care person(s) is something to look at. How can one person even two persons manage to look at and check on hundreds of pigs daily?

All the things above should be compared to the "good" sanctuary and rescue. One can look at the sanctuaries that have been around for a while. Track record says a lot. Reputations says even more. You should NEVER EVER find babies being born at any sanctuary unless they can show that the pig was pregnant when it arrived there.

If the pig has been there longer than five months and has a new litter, that pig got bred there. There is NO good excuse! You should not be able to find working boars over an extended time at the sanctuary or rescue. You can find plump happy pigs with enough room and adequate facilities at the good sanctuary. You will find that while they certainly deserve and appreciate the help from the outside, that these pigs will not do without if the owner never sees a dime of support from anyone else.

Financial security is the number one issue with a sanctuary. You cannot take pigs in as a sanctuary if you do not have the means on your own to support and vet and care for them all.

A good sanctuary sets limits, which they abide by. They either have to turn away some, which is the hardest thing for a sanctuary to do or become overcrowded with less time, energy and money for those that are already there.

You will not see "hundreds" of pigs on limited acreage at an established sanctuary. All good sanctuaries have this limit and while they may go a few over with emergency cases or abuse cases, they will stay within reason of the limit knowing that they can not take on the world and save them all.

Reputation is very important and you should never hear of the Humane Society sitting on a sanctuary's doorstep or even a hint of it.

What can the average person do if they want to help a sanctuary or rescue, not a collector? Take into consideration all that you have read and by all means support a sanctuary/rescue of your choice. Make it one that is already established and has been in operation for years and one that has the reputation of good care that you would want your pig to have if in the same position. There are many to choose from that fit the bill and very few good supporters so make your support count rather than just enabling a place that will eventually have major problems for the good guys to clean up.

2002 This material is copyrighted, and is not to be reprinted without permission
Copying or Linking Without Prior Permission is a Violation of INT'L Copyright Laws

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