Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Pet pig factories and sanctuaries for the abandoned and abused

On this blog, I'm experimenting a bit with whether it might actually be possible to earn anything with Google AdSense. But with pigs as a theme, it's a constant battle to filter out ads for businesses that I consider abusive. That includes most websites related to the meat industry and hunting tourism, but today I also seem to have been advertising for an irresponsible pet potbellied pig breeder/factory.

Their ad says, "extra tiny - beautiful colours - ship worldwide", and on the website to which it points there are pictures of tiny piglets and below them links that say "add to cart" (with the note "pigs in picture are not the pigs you will receive - just examples").
The pictures on the site, with just one exception, though I'm not quite sure about that one either, all show pictures of tiny piglets, not full-grown pigs - although it's with the full-grown ones you will spend the most of your life.

Under "Satisfied customers around the world", it says, "I have shipped piggers all over the U.S. including HAWAII and all over the world to JAPAN, EUROPE & Alaska." What kind of person gets a pet transported such a long way, instead of getting a friend closer to home? Won't the pig be traumatized by the long transport?
And: "4 other Japanese men flew over here just to see my piggers! I took them to other breeders' farms to see other potbelly pigs, but they didn't want theirs - they wanted mine because of the small size & pug noses. I know they will be taken care of, they bought two of them from me two years ago & still have them, but wanted more of my little darlings." - Wow, they actually still have the pigs they bought from you two years ago? Is that enough to say they will be taken care of? Talk about low standards.

The breeder does seem to have some sort of resposibility, as she has an "emergency helpline", a phone number you can call 24/7 if you have 'problems' with your pig. She also guarantees that if "for any reason you need to get rid of your pigger, even years from when you bought it I will take it back, and if there is something wrong with it (health wise, genetically) I will give your money back."

But overall, the piglets she breeds are spoken of as goods or toys to buy and play with, because "they are so funny, entertaining & sweet". Not a word about how sensitive pigs are, how much responsibility it takes to keep a pig (or any other animal), how tricky they can be to train and live with, as they are more intelligent than dogs and can easily start manipulating humans (and so can dogs, but pigs can outsmart stupid and inconsequent humans even easier), or wrecking your house and garden out of boredom or frustration.

And another VERY alarming thing is that she states: "I clip their teeth [...] at 1 day old." WHY????
Clipping teeth is a common practise in factory farming, because it "reduces injuries" from fighting and tail-biting (which is a result of the enormous psychological stress of living in terribly cramped, noisy and dirty conditions in factory farms). Here is a report from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia that has come to the conclusion that even in factory farms, tooth clipping is not really necessary. And here is a BBC article about a farm with free-ranging pigs, where the pigs don't need to have their teeth clipped. Why on earth would pet pigs need to have their teeth clipped?!

I probably couldn't ever breed any animals commercially, because for one thing I think it's unethical, with so many pets abandoned on the streets or in shelters all over the world by irresponsible 'owners', and for another I would live in constant horror about the possibility that the new owners of my little babies would treat them wrong.

If you do know that you can handle a pig and take full responsibility for it, are able to care for it, love it and be consequent and fair to it, you should consider adopting it from a shelter or sanctuary. You should definitely NOT buy it from breeders like this, who treat pigs like toys or objects!

Here is a list of a few sanctuaries and shelters for pigs (not all of them have pigs for adoption, but they treat the pigs they care for with respect and as individuals, something everyone can learn something from):

Pigs, a sanctuary
Ironwood Pig Sanctuary
Pigs Peace Sanctuary
Shepherd's Green Sanctuary
Pig Pals Sanctuary
Belly Draggers Ranch

Hearts on Noses

Farm Animal Rescue

Schutzengel für Tiere

These are just a few. Sadly, there are many more, as all too many people abandon their 'pets' after getting them without realising what it means to care for a pig.

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