Pigs who are well-socialized are usually considered adoptable; there have been a few circumstances where we’ve chosen to keep a social pig, to train for our therapy program and have as a public ambassador during off-site events. As pigs mature and age, they don’t often want to leave the property; they become home-bodies of sorts, and while they like human interaction on the farm, don’t necessarily want it offsite. Boris is one such example. For the first 5 years of his life, he loved being a therapy pig and making public visits. As he has aged, however, he prefers to stay home and socialize with onsite visitors instead. As such, we routinely need to train new therapy pigs for our program and for events–that’s why both Katniss Eversqueal and Guapo became permanent sanctuary pigs. Currently, Hog Haven Farm has 8 pigs trained for its therapy program!
Aside from the therapy program, our initial pet pigs–taken on before Hog Haven Farm was founded–are permanent. We decided to keep our very first rescue, Pumba, from when HHF began in 2014. Several of our initial intakes (from 2015) have remained as sanctuary pigs, too. Since they’ve formed strong bonds with one another, it would be unfair to remove them from their friends, after such a long history together.
When a large breed comes to Hog Haven Farm, more often than not they are immediately considered permanent sanctuary residents. Because these pigs aren’t considered pets in most zoning codes, and because they are widely raised as meat animals, we protect our gentle giants, and allow them the opportunity to happily live out their natural lives, free from harm. As a plant-based rescue and sanctuary, we do not advocate for eating pigs (or other animals), and choose instead to provide loving homes to them, where their lives are treated with value and respect. We have adopted large breeds in the past–but only to families who are vegetarian, have agricultural zoning and plenty of room for the pigs to roam.
Often, pigs arrive to Hog Haven Farm from horrible cases of abuse or neglect. As highly emotional and intelligent creatures, rehabilitation takes time for these intakes–and often, we choose to protect them from any future harm, allowing them to be permanent sanctuary residents. Once emotionally damaged pigs choose to trust a human, it’s unfair to break that trust and sever the bond they have formed. There are a few we have considered to be permanent pigs, whom we’ve chosen to adopt after a period of time, depending on special circumstances, and the experience of the adopter.
Over the past 5 years, Hog Haven Farm has seen a variety of pigs with special needs, and who require more frequent trips to the vet than the typically healthy pig would. Special needs residents include Greta (born with a deformed back leg); Morty (deaf and with a neurological disorder); Stuart (anemic); Raffi (born with a misaligned jaw); Milo (born with stunted front legs); and Lulu (born with deformed back feet). Some of these special needs come from inbreeding, and unfortunately, the pig will see a decreased lifespan because of it. Hog Haven Farm takes pride in providing the best possible vet care for its residents, and the ability to assess minor changes in diet or behavior that could signal a greater issue–thus, the special needs pigs will typically remain as permanent sanctuary residents.
Other factors that determine permanence versus adoptability include age. Most potential adopters are interested in young pigs, or piglets, and our seniors are largely overlooked. While we will consider adopting a senior, we know the time for them to bond with a new family, and their overall longevity, is limited–we don’t want heartbreak from the pig or the potential adopter, and very rarely allow pigs older than 11 or 12 years to be adopted.
Pigs who have aggressive behaviors or tendencies typically become permanent sanctuary residents as well. If behavior is unpredictable, and there are regular aggressive behaviors, we choose to keep those pigs safe at Hog Haven Farm, where we are equipped to handle, and know how to respond/communicate with, those particular pigs. As of now, there are only three with known issues: Dyson (who will typically nip or head swipe when he wants affection), Frida (who is relatively new and still under assessment) and Stuart (who is just a very unpredictable fellow).
We believe every pig deserves a chance, and will work with the timid pigs, the aggressive pigs, the emotional pigs, and the social pigs to find the best placement for them. Whether best placement is in an adoptive home, or within the care of the sanctuary, we strive to always offer what is in the best interest of the pig.