Family Adopts ‘Mini’ Pig — Then Realizes They Don’t Exist
"They thought Amy would stay the size of a small dog, but that was a pipe dream."
A “mini pig.” That’s what the family thought they were getting when they bought a tiny potbelly piglet from a breeder in Texas in 2016, and brought her home to live with them.
But the piglet, whom they named Amy, slowly grew — bigger and bigger — until she weighed hundreds of pounds.
“They thought Amy would stay the size of a small dog, but that was a pipe dream,” a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) wrote in a statement. “Amy is not a mini pig, because no such pig exists. She’s a standard potbelly and she rapidly outgrew her home.”
When Amy became too much for the family to handle, they surrendered her to the MSPCA.
Unfortunately, Amy isn’t the only pig the MSPCA has taken in. This year alone, the group has received over 60 calls from people wanting to surrender their “mini” or “micro” pigs.
“It’s sort of an epidemic at this point where we’ve seen the fad of mini and micro pigs really emerge,” Mike Keiley, director of MSPCA, told The Dodo. “We get endless numbers of calls … from people who thought they were taking on a mini pig, but it ends up being much larger.”
“They’re thinking it’s going to end up being the size of a Chihuahua or a small dog, and then are surprised when the pig gets to hundreds of pounds and also acts like a pig,” Keiley added. “When they’re kept in a home, they may root up their carpet, or rip off their cabinet doors looking for food.”
Keiley places fault with the breeders, who often fraudulently claim their pigs will remain a small size for their entire lives — and even encourage people to underfeed the pigs or keep them in confined spaces to make them stay small.
In Amy’s case, the family ended up feeding her too much, and the wrong kinds of foods, such as cookies and cakes.
“Pigs are very food-motivated, so people will often use food to get them to do things — but it’s often not the right food for them,” Keiley said.
Amy is now about 200 pounds, making her the biggest potbelly pig the MSPCA team has ever seen. A healthy potbelly pig should only weigh about 100 pounds — still far larger than what breeders claim.
To help Amy lose weight, the team is getting her to do “piggy aerobics” by encouraging her to run around before and after her meals. She’s already lost about 20 pounds, which Keiley says is great progress.
Now Amy needs a new home, and the MSPCA team would love to see her find one for the holidays.
“She’s really an approachable pig. She’s mellow and calm,” Keiley said. “And she’s really snuggly.”
The best home for Amy would be one where she has access to both outdoor and indoor spaces — and she needs a family who’s committed to keeping her healthy.
“She’s moving in the right direction,” Keiley said. “We’re definitely looking for someone to take on where we have gotten her to, and keep her going in the right direction.”