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The Shelter Worker’s Guide to Pigs

Dale Riffle and the staff of PIGS


The Shelter Worker’s Guide to Pigs Introduction

“Pigs as Pets”
In The Beginning . .

The concept of raising a pig as a pet is not new. In fact, people have been raising pigs as pets for many years. However, because of the pigs large size, on average 450-500 pounds, they have typically lived only in rural areas and in an outside setting.

In 1985, the Vietnamese potbellied pig, a new breed of pig on the exotic animal market, was introduced into the United States. Their arrival into this country was followed by a media frenzy. Potbellied pigs were touted as the “Pet of the 90’s” and the “Yuppie Puppy.” This major press coverage created such demand for these animals that the breeders could not supply the pigs fast enough. The going rate for potbellied pigs was $10,000 to $15,000 per pig with a waiting list of one to one and one-half years. The highest price ever paid for a single potbellied pig was a reported $37,000. With such great demand for the pigs and prices in the thousands, many people began breeding and promoting the potbellied pig with the hopes of striking it rich, thus creating what was known as the potbellied pig Industry.

The first registry for these pigs was started by a woman in California who reportedly grossed over $100,000 in just one year by operating the registry, promoting the pigs through the press, and collecting a commission from breeders for every buyer she referred to them. However, the press stories that appeared contained misleading information as well as pictures showing baby piglets instead of full-grown pigs. The pigs were promoted as animals that would grow to only 30 to 40 pounds, could live in a house, apartment, or condominium full time, were as smart and easily trained as dogs, would use a litter box like a cat, could be taught to walk on a leash, had no body odor, and because they have bristles instead of fur, could be the perfect pet for people with allergies. What the breeders and promoters were selling was an animal that looked like a pig but didn’t act like one.



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Courtesy of
PIGS, a sanctuary
RR 1 Box 604 Shepherdstown, WV 25443 (304) 262-0080
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