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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bring Randy the Pig Home

I know It has been forever since I posted. I just haven't been able to find words to write. It's not that I haven't had inspiration, how much more inspiring can my daughter's wedding be. I just couldn't find words. I guess that's what writer's block is like. I'm not a writer, but I guess it is the same feeling. 

Today I started feeling my words returning. A post about Valerie's wedding will be coming. This post is more time pressing though. 

My friend Dawn Blackburn raises Juliana mini pigs.  She is a responsible breeder. She has only one male and two females that she breeds. The females have only one or two litters a year. While she does make money from her piglets, it is not how she makes her living. 

Her piggies are a part of her family. Each new litter becomes a part of her everyday life. She and her family socialize with the piglets. They work with them to potty train them. She teaches them tricks. She loves and snuggles them. From the time they are old enough to leave their mommy for a short time they are in her house scampering about. She invests time and energy into each piglet as well as providing for basic needs. 

Dawn works out of her home as a graphic designer. When there is a litter of piggies, they are at her feet snoozing as she works. There is a constant clickity click of piggy feet on her hardwood floors as they play. They are her babies.  

When the time comes, that they are old enough, trained enough and socialized enough, she starts looking for forever homes for her babies. This is not a process taken lightly. Her website is full of information about what to expect when raising a mini pig as a pet. There is an entire page explaining that raising a mini pig is NOT for everyone. It is not like having a cat or a dog. Pigs are very smart. Being so smart, they feel stress very profoundly. If a family doesn't have the time and desire to put into raising a pig, she would rather they didn't even contact her. 

As cute as a mini pig can be, they do not stay tiny. Dawn is the first to warn people against going to a breeder advertising "teacup" piglets. They don't exist. If a breeder is claiming their pigs stay smaller than 60 pounds, run away. There are a lot of unscrupulous breeders out there, just like puppy mills. Some will actually starve a baby piglet to keep them small until they are sold. Once these piglets are eating, they grow exponentially and someone may find they were actually sold a full sized farm pig. This is a horrible, sad situation. Occasionally, the new family finds a way to make it work. Most do not. These animals end up in shelters, and rescue farms. Not really farm stock, but not really a pet either. 

Dawn does not do any of these horrid things. She researched and learned before she even considered buying a pig, let alone breeding. She knew what to expect. She learned how to raise piglets so they would be great pets. 

One of her piglets, Patrick, didn't socialize well. He was timid, he would stay behind during training sessions. He just wasn't eager to learn like the rest. Dawn decided that Patrick would not do well with a move to a new family. If she were a mill type of breeder, she wouldn't have cared about that and would have sold him anyway, or not had him fixed and used him to breed. Worse yet, a very bad breeder, probably would have just put him down. Not Dawn, Patrick lives with Dawn and family. He is spoiled rotten, eats too many acorns, and loves laying on his big pillow snuggled with other animals. 

Which leads me to the urgent situation at hand. 

A young man came to Dawn and wanted to buy one of her piglets. She interviewed him, and found that he really needed to do more research before she could feel comfortable selling him a pig. He came back. He had called his landlord, his city and his county to be sure it was ok and legal for him to own a pet piglet. Dawn interviewed him again. He had the right answers, asked the right questions. Dawn sold him a piglet out of a litter nick named The Brady Bunch, three girls and three boys.The piglet's name was Greg.  Contracts were signed. A clause in the contract stated that if for any reason the young man could no longer care for the piglet, he should be returned to Dawn.  She always has that clause in her contracts. She never ever wants one of her piglets to end up in a shelter. 

The young man took him home. Greg's name was changed to Randy. Dawn received pictures and texts from the young man. He and Randy were bonding well and happy. 

A few days ago, out of the blue, Dawn received a call from the Humane Society of Missouri. They had a pig with a microchip registered to her name. It was Randy. First thing she did was to call the young man, she was afraid Randy had gotten lost. He said his life circumstances had changed abruptly and he had to give up Randy. He had forgotten that he could take him back to Dawn and surrendered him to the humane society instead. 

Immediately, she called the humane society back and said she would gladly come and get Randy. They seemed at this point to be willing to work with her. They didn't have the proper facility nor the knowledge to take care of Randy. Then suddenly, it took a drastic turn. The lady asked Dawn what her relationship to Randy was. Dawn told her she was his breeder. The woman became out right hostile to Dawn. "We don't work with breeders!" From that point on, Randy became a matter of principle rather than a living being with needs. 

Now, I do understand their reasoning for not working with breeders, to a point. Missouri is thick with puppy mills. The state is full of the type of breeders that I wrote of earlier. I can understand them not wanting to return an animal to a horrid breeder. I really can, but there are always exceptions. Randy is one. 

Pigs stress very easily. They mourn losses. They grieve. If they are in a stressful situation for a prolonged time they can develop very serious, even life threatening conditions very quickly. They can actually fall down and die from being over stressed. People without knowledge of how to care for a pig can compound the stress of being in a strange scary place. Do they know not to pick him up off the floor? Pigs are terrified of not having their feet on something solid. They admitted themselves they know nothing about pigs. Yet, they refuse to release Randy to Dawn who knows how to care for him and loves him. They won't even talk to her. They won't take a few minutes to even look her up online, or Facebook to find out that she is a good, honest, loving person, who just wants to get her pig back.

Here is how you can help if you would like. The Humane Society of Missouri has a Facebook page. Please, post to it, encouraging them to let Randy go home. They also have a Twitter page, @hsmo and please use the hashtag #bringRandythePigHome. On Instagram they are @hsmopets again, please use hashtag #bringRandythePigHome. 

Randy also had a Facebook page, like it, and keep up with developments in his story. 

Patrick the pig wants his little brother to come home. 

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