We want to thank Crystal of Vegas Pig Pets for her blog contribution this week, all she has done and continues to do for our growing pet pig community! Like Mo Drose, she is a saint in this realm and a well known advocate for our dear companions. We thank you for all your time and dedication to continuing education and the vast knowledge you so willingly share with other pet parents.
How a small rescue was born to help one pig pet at a time...
Back in 2004, when I as looking to adopt a potbelly pig for a pet, I could not find any information or networking here in Las Vegas. I found piglets in pet stores and even, of all places, the swap meet, but no one could tell me anything about them! I have always adopted all my other animals, dogs, birds and even tortoises! I tried to adopt out of state from California and Utah but could not find any "pigpet" to call my own. After over a year of research and looking for that special pig, I felt I had no other choices. In 2005, I bought and flew my piglet home from a reputable NAPPA breeder we located in Texas. I named her Pork Chop, a name I had in mind for many years. She was the smartest, most special creature I had ever encountered. On my quest for information, care and training, I was able to find Pigs4Ever in Reno, NV and drove my 5-month old Pork Chop 8 hours to meet a "pig" trainer! How hard could this be, right? I was a professional bird trainer for many years! Well, finding out that pigs are like perpetual, intelligent 3 year old children, I was very surprised that my prior training skills were no help with a "prey" animal! Luckily at the Pigs4Ever Pignic, I met wonderful pig experts, Dottie & Richard Eggeman (www.Pigs4Ever.com), Phyllis Battoe (www.pigpalssanctuary.com) and Susan Stearns Young (renowned pig trainer) and with their help, I was well on my way to mastering the understanding and behavioral training of my pet pig!
She was a little overweight, a little too smart for her own good, but the most special, smartest animal I could have added to my family. Because of my inability to find information along the way and only finding people in the same boat as I was, totally misunderstanding their pigs, VegasPigPets got started in April of 2008. Not by choice, but by need. Joining a wonderful pig "club" called SCAMPP (www.scampp.org) out of Southern California, and hearing of the chatter from other pig rescue groups and sanctuaries, I knew there was a problem in Las Vegas. Misunderstood pet pigs were being given up to shelters, left in backyards to fend for themselves and even walking down busy streets. It was becoming a sad story, like so many other animals, the worsening economy, the foreclosure crisis, whatever the excuse, people were leaving their pet pigs behind. It was harder for the abandoned pigs, as they didn't just "fit in" at the shelters! By this time I had made a good friend and mentor of Marlies (www.pigharmony.com) and she convinced me I could help these pigs needing homes. She helped VegasPigPets get started, networking and pointing me toward resources that could help, even hundreds of miles away. A whole network of pig owners, rescuers and sanctuaries stepped up to network with me! Somehow people got my email, my phone number and finally my website, www.vegaspigpets.org, was born! It still saddens me to see how bad the problem is and how much worse it is still becoming. But we can all do something, even if it is one pigpet at a time! My 501(c)(3) was approved in December, 2008, so full blast forward I went to get the word out that there was help to educate owners in Las Vegas! My website has provided a valuable resource for pigpet owners in Las Vegas and surrounding areas that felt just like me, nowhere to turn, no one to ask, no one to provide education and guidance! Through my organization, I was able to collect over 24,000 pounds of blankets that were distributed to rescues and sanctuaries from Colorado to California. I was able to provide food and blankets to many owners that were out of jobs to help keep those pig pets in thier homes. I spent weekends helping trim hooves and doing behavior training with spoiled pigs, thereby preventing one more displacement. How one little piglet named Pork Chop started my organization still amazes me! VegasPigPets is a very small rescue, not originally zoned for more than one pig. I specialize in educating owners and doing whatever it takes to keep that pigpet in it's home. In 2010, I was able to work with the Animal Advisory Committee to add "Potbelly Pigs" to the list of "Companion Animals", hence allowing our county to require breeders to get licensed and to also prevent piglets under 8 pounds to be sold! In 2011, was I able to acquire my new 1/2 acre county property and in 2014 I received final zoning approval for up to 8 pigs. 8 total pigs is still not a lot compared to the problem, so I have to be selective on the pigs I take in, hence fierce educational programs and behavior training with pigs and their owners. I can proudly say that over 90% of the people I work with end up keeping their pigs!
In late 2010, when the "teacup" lies were turning into so many unwanted and abandoned pigpets, I, along with the input of many many rescues and sanctuaries, started the website, www.teacuppig.info. For legal protection, only links to stories and stories written in people's own words are posted. Greeders (aka greedy, lying teacup breeders) came after me with a vengeance! Even though over 140,000 people have viewed my "teacup" website, the problem is still as bad as ever and getting worse! Facebook also became popular, so my quest to inform and educate escalated to a new platform.
People always say "I'm just one person, I can't do much!" Well I am just one person, too. I may not end the unnecessary euthanization of pigpets in my lifetime but if we all just help just one pigpet that cannot help themselves, educate others on the specialized needs of our pig pet friends, help stop the "teacup" lies, support our wonderful, tireless pig sanctuaries and stop unnecessary pregnancies by promoting spaying and neutering... someday we all can say we helped eliminate the unnecessary euthanization of so many of our pet pigs! We are their voice, no matter how soft or loud, say something! Take a stand! Be their voice! One pet pig at a time!
The Hog Blog...
Jodi will be keeping up the blog but we are more interested in guest bloggers! Please contact us via email if you may be interested! Check back to see who our guest blogger is and what topic we will be exploring.