Q&A of the day! A lot of folks ask us what exactly Hog Haven Farm does as a public charity and why.
Pet pigs are becoming the new favorite exotic pet for a lot of people across the country, but like any new pet, a lot of folks do not research the requirements and needs of owning a potbellied pig. There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet regarding pigs as pets–many people buy into the concept of “teacup pigs,” which is a myth created by breeders to sell more piglets. Once the “teacup pig” reaches a larger size, the owners lose interest and choose to rehome the pig. This is one of the more common problems we see as a rescue organization.
Second, as part of conducting research into pig ownership, many people neglect to look into zoning rules in their county or city. Pigs–no matter the size or breed–are still considered livestock. Even though our potbellied porcine pals are domesticated, there is often no distinction between them and the traditional farm pig (such as a Hampshire or Yorkshire). Some of the pigs we have adopted out have come to us because of zoning violations; for example, City of Aurora in Colorado has a ban on owning a pig in any urban area. There are some cities that allow pet pigs, but permits are required to house them. Other cities require licensing, just as you would license your dog or cat.
One of our primary goals as a nonprofit organization is to educate current and future owners about pigs as pets. It will change your lifestyle, as pigs are routine driven and require attention, training, and patience. Understanding the needs and personality of pigs is very important prior to adopting one.
Hog Haven Farm has worked hard in socializing our pigs; this means that our pigs are exposed to the general public on a very regular basis. They are harness and lead trained for walks or outings, and as such, two of our pigs, Boris and Pumba, are now therapy pets. We work with the elderly, at either assisted living, retirement, or memory care facilities to provide therapy. Hog Haven Farm is also beginning to work with children, either through libraries or high-risk youth programs, to provide education and therapy.
The benefits of providing the pigs as therapy animals are incredible. For one, pigs are not a common pet, and the surprise factor of the residents we visit is wonderful. The pigs open up dialogue with memory care patients–a crucial element to treating Alzheimer’s and dementia–and often bring back memories for those who grew up on or near a farm. The biggest element in the therapy program is to help those in need by bringing a smile to their day, allowing them to laugh and talk about how cute the pigs are, and to provide an emotional support to those who are struggling in some way, shape or form.
Hog Haven Farm’s founder and director, Erin Brinkley-Burgardt, and her husband Andrew are in love with pigs as pets and creatures. The intelligence of pigs is incredible, and when you look a pig in the eye, you can see that they are smart, loving creatures. As a result of working with and living with pet pigs, Andrew and Erin chose to do everything possible to help pigs in need, and share the love of pigs with people in need. As an organization, we choose to promote and help these wonderful animals, and to do everything possible to educate the public on the rewards of a pet pig.
If you are interested in supporting our organization, please visit www.hoghavenfarm.org/donate.html today.