Like many college students, I want a pet. No, I do not want a cat nor a dog. My dream pet is a pig. This pig would not be slaughtered for meat. As someone who does not eat meat, I feel I am not missing out by not slaughtering an animal. I want to get a pig from a rescue and let it live a long life where it is loved, and their intrinsic value is acknowledged and deeply considered in any decision, medical or otherwise. Since they are very social, I hope to, at some point, be able to afford to have multiple pigs. That is the starting place I use to support wanting to care for these animals.
With the rise of the popularity of the "mini pig," many misconceptions about pigs have been spread. Mini pig is the first type of pig that needs to be defined.
This is defined by the Central Texas Pig Rescue: "A mini pig is a classification of domestic pig (typically a potbellied pig) that is less than 400lbs. They are considered 'mini' because they are smaller than a typical farm hog, which can weigh 500-1000+ lbs. Pigs live up to 20 years and are a long-term commitment as a pet."
Additionally, there is no way to keep them piglet size other than by starving them. Other misconceptions come from many negative associations with them. Pigs are viewed negatively because they are used in the meat industry. I mean, where is the line of animals people eat versus the ones who are protected and kept as pets? This line of pet and food typically varies regionally.
One example of pigs being viewed in a negative light is the belief that pigs are dirty and gross. Actually, they are quite clean. One Kind Planet reports, "Pigs are very clean, keeping their toilet area far away from where they lie down and eat. Even newborn piglets will leave the nest to go to the toilet within hours of birth."
Pigs are also super smart and are in tune with their emotions. This allows them to not only be super curious, but they can also have relationships.
According to the Pig Placement Network, "A pig is not going to jump up and lick you in the face. Their affections are expressed more subtlety. Pigs love to be scratched, rubbed and massaged. Most pigs don't like to be picked up but will gladly lie with you and enjoy a long cuddle. Pigs appreciate and seek out human company."
Due to the misrepresentation of these amazing animals over time, the general public has a horribly skewed opinion of pigs.
On a superficial level, having a pet pig can result in you having a pet which is different than that of friends and family; however, like other animals, there is a need for pigs to be adopted with rescues due to many people getting them with the expectation their pig will not grow. As a result, people will often abandon them or leave them on the side of interstates and highways.
Pigs deserve a chance to live a peaceful life and be cared for their entire lives. Unfortunately, due to their use in the meat industry, people are not willing to let them live full lives like other pets. As long as you live in an area that allows you to have pigs and you have the means to take care of one, there are several rescues to choose from. Three of my personal favorites are Pigsburgh Squealers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Kansas City Pig Rescue in Kansas City, Missouri and Oinking Acres Farm in Brownsburg, Indiana. There are several resources on taking care of pigs not only from rescues but also from other pig owners.
Hopefully, there will be a growing interest in non-traditional pets like livestock. There is a need for people to be willing to take care of animals who are neglected or in need, whether it is a cat, dog, pig or cow. Expanding the categories of animals we care for and acknowledging their intrinsic value could help us learn more about them and be more willing to de-commercialize cruelty in the industries which use them. Even if you disagree, I will be saving up for a pig to love and care for and allow it to have a beautiful long life.