- Adopts out pigs that are intact (pigs that have not been spayed or neutered)
- Lack of proper documentation, surrender forms, applications, and contracts
- Does not provide basic veterinary care before adoption
- Does not thoroughly screen adoptive and foster homes
- Takes on more animals than they have resources to care for, or too many too fast
- Poor living conditions or improper care for pigs or other animals in their care
- Lack of adoptions, failure to network adoptable pigs
- Questionable finances or fundraising
- Piglets born at rescue, failure to keep intact pigs separated
- Does not put emphasis on educating adopters and keeping in contact to ensure the pig’s welfare
Rescue organizations are not all created equally. When searching for a rescue organization whether you plan to donate, volunteer, surrender a pig, foster, or adopt, take a good look at their practices to determine if they are helping or hurting the pigs in their care. Irresponsible rescues may have started with a genuine heart and intent only to become overburdened or overwhelmed. At the other end there are complete frauds that will use and abuse animals for financial gain. These frauds will say all the right things to pull your heart strings while raking in funds for their own personal use. Some people have mental illness or mental disorders that impair their judgement. While they may see themselves as “saving” or “rescuing” pigs, it does the pig no good to be put into the same situation they were rescued from, and in some cases the rescuer does more damage to the pig than they were saved from.
The balance between responsible rescuing and irresponsible hoarding is a fine line.
A reputable rescue organization will ensure every single pig is spayed or neutered BEFORE the adopter takes the pig. Unfortunately, once a pig leaves the rescue, that organization can no longer protect the pig. Adopters have promised many times in the past to spay or neuter at their own veterinarian. Occasionally, they do follow through. Unfortunately, more often than not, they fail to spay or neuter the pigs. Sometimes they have a genuine family/financial emergency and cannot afford the surgery. Sometimes they hear of a surgery gone wrong and decide it’s not in the best interest of the pig. Even a spay or neuter contract cannot protect the pig if the adopter decides to not prioritize this life saving procedure. Many times the adopter is embarrassed at their inability to follow through on the promised surgery so the rescue is not informed. An intact pig does not make a good pet leading to more health and behavior problems. This increases the chance the family will rehome or abandon the pig. At this point the rescued pig is at the mercy of the next person that takes her. The next home may not be thoroughly screened by a rescue organization. Not everyone has the pig’s best interest at heart. Many pigs are sold or given away to individuals with the intention of breeding them for profit. These irresponsible and unethical breeders have no concern for the welfare or health of the pig. They will breed her back to back and pull the piglets to sell as bottle fed babies. The ONLY way for a rescued pig to end up with this horrible fate is to adopt her intact. A spayed female will never in her life be used for breeding and will never die a painful death of uterine cancer. A rescue organization is responsible for the pig’s they rescue, for the lifetime of the pig. They must always, always spay or neuter while the pig is in their care.
Rescue organizations that care about the welfare of the pigs will have documentation and policies throughout the process. A rescue that takes in pigs, adopts pigs, or transports pigs without proper paperwork is putting those pig’s lives at risk. The welfare of the pig should always come first. Health Certificates or CVIs are required for travel when crossing state lines. All pigs should have a paper trail starting with a legal release from the owner or a surrender form. This document protects the pig by transferring ownership to the rescue organization. Without this form, the previous owner that neglected the pig may claim ownership after the pig has been adopted to a wonderful family. Screening of adoptive homes should also be documented. It does not help the pig to take him from one negligent owner only to put him with another potentially worse negligent owner. Adoption screening is a must. An adoption contract should also be in place to protect the pig. This contract should include a return clause, ensuring the adopters return the pig to the rescue organization in the event they are no longer able to care for him. This will prevent the pig from being rehomed indiscriminately, abandoned, or turned into a shelter where he will risk euthanasia.
It is a troubling sign when a rescue organization does not provide basic veterinary care for a pig before adoption. Pigs should always be spayed or neutered, dewormed, microchipped, and updated on vaccinations as appropriate. If a pig has symptoms of illness or injury this should also be addressed by a veterinarian before the pig is available for adoption. By adopting out pigs without these basic needs met, the rescue is putting the responsibility on someone else. In the end, the only way to ensure the pig is properly cared for is to meet these needs while the pig is in the care of the rescue organization. If a rescue is not able to meet these basic needs, then they have no business rescuing.
Pigs should not be adopted to the first person that shows interest without proper screening. Rescues that pass pigs around like hot potatoes are doing the pig no favor at all. These pigs are at risk of a horrible fate, no matter how genuine the adopter seems. What happens to a pig that was adopted without proper screening? Read The Fate Of The Abandoned Pig for examples (LINK). When a pig is rescued, that organization owes it to the pig to make sure the adoption is in the best interest of the pig and that the adopter is able to provide a good home for the life of the pig.
A common fate of inexperienced or unethical rescues is taking on more pigs than they can reasonably care for. Their heart may have been bigger than their resources or they may have intentionally taken on a large number of pigs in an effort to bring in more funds. This is very dangerous for the pigs in their care. This means the pigs are not getting the attention they require. They likely won’t get the veterinary care they need. The rescuer may have a hard time keeping intact animals separated. They may be packed into small spaces. They animals be stressed putting a further strain on their immune systems. The pigs will likely end up living in filthy conditions. Pigs may end up breeding, putting their health at further risk while bringing more unwanted piglets into the world and even more strain on the resources of the rescue. A responsible rescuer will ONLY take on pigs they have the ability to care for until adoption. As hard as it is to turn pigs away, it does more harm than good to overburden the rescue. In the end, the entire rescue will collapse under the strain leaving many pigs at risk. Situations like this in the past have left up to 300 pig’s lives in danger.
Poor living conditions are an instant red flag in the rescue environment. A rescued pig deserves the same level of care as a family pet. They should be fed an appropriate diet, in appropriate portions. Obesity or malnutrition are unacceptable standards for rescues. Pigs at a rescue should have secure fencing, protection from weather, clean water and dry ground free of feces. Pigs should never be kept in mud without a place to get to dry ground. If a rescuer has had animals seized by Animal Control in the past, this is a huge red flag to their abilities to properly care for animals. Pigs should not be stacked in crates inside the home. Baby gates do not protect pigs from pregnancy. Other animals should not put the pig’s health or safety at risk, such as being attacked by dogs or trampled by horses. The rescuer is responsible to provide rescued pigs safety and healthy living conditions.
A blatant lack of networking or adoptions is not a good sign for a rescue organization. The mission in rescue should be to save animals from neglect or mistreatment and place them in appropriate homes when feasible. There are situations where animals may not be adoptable and must live their life out at the sanctuary. However, these cases are few and far between. The majority of rescued pigs will make wonderful companions once given basic veterinary care and love. If a rescue has such strict adoption criteria that nobody could possibly qualify, then how does that help the pig? To keep and care for hundreds of pigs is a huge task. It takes a financial toll, a physical toll, and an emotional toll. A pig in a herd of 100+ animals does not get the same quality of life as a pig does with a loving family and a backyard to root. These pigs deserve to be someone’s sunshine, their love bug, and their friend. With thorough screening, contracts, education, and follow up, there is no reason rescued pigs should not be given the chance with a loving family. These wonderful families are found through networking. Adoptable pigs should be promoted heavily on all the rescue’s media accounts. If they claim they do not have time to network their adoptable pigs, then they have taken on too much of a burden to give each pig what he or she deserves.
One of the most visible red flags of a rescue organization that is often overlooked is financial. Every day rescues ask for funds, hold fundraisers, or threaten the lives of pigs if enough funds are not raised. Falsely claiming 501c3 status is a deceptive and unethical practice. If fundraisers are held, a follow up should be done to show exactly how much money was raised and how the funds were used. There should be photos of how the money helped the pigs at the rescue. If rescues are constantly begging for more funds to rescue more animals, how can they afford the animals already in their care? If they cannot afford to transport a new intake to their rescue, then how can they expect to provide quality care for that pig until he is adopted? There’s no question about it, rescuing is expensive. However, a responsible rescue will only take in pigs that are within their means.
Piglets should only be born at the rescue or sanctuary to sows that were rescued less than four months prior. If the pig has been in the care of the rescue for more than four months, then she was bred at the rescue. Whether intentional or accidental, this is absolutely unacceptable. There is no excuse for breeding rescued pigs. This goes against the core of what rescue is. To rescue and to protect. Allowing animals to breed is not protecting them. It is endangering their health, potentially their lives, and brings even more pigs into the world. If an intact pig is rescued, he or she should be safely separated from any other intact pigs. These pigs should be spayed or neutered as quickly as possible. Ideally, a spay or neuter appointment will be scheduled before the animal is picked up.
A rescue that is not involved in educating adoptive homes is not showing the dedication it takes to keep pigs with their families. Rescues should always put emphasis on education. They can rescue pigs all day long, adopt them out all day long, continue the cycle. Intake, adopt, intake, adopt. It saves lives but it doesn’t slow down the need. To truly make a difference education is essential. Adopters should be thoroughly educated as well as offered lifelong support to ensure the pig stays in their care. Rescue websites and social media are the perfect opportunity to spread education even farther, to the masses of potential pig families. By educating and supporting pig owners they will lessen the need for pigs to be rescued. A rescue that truly values the lives and welfare of pigs will prioritize this much needed education.