California Potbellied Pig Association, Inc

Why I Rescue

by Marilyn Hirvela

I am often asked why I spend so much time working to rescue and re home potbellied pigs. The answer is really quite simple…it’s my way of giving back. I’ve always loved pigs and like most people, I always saw the pictures of those cute little piglets. You know the ones. The media depicts them standing in rain boots and licking ice cream cones. Their little faces so cute that you just want to curl up on the couch with one in your lap. Far from reality, but that’s the picture that comes to mind if you’ve never been around one.

When I got my first PBP Betty, she was just 2 months old. I bought her off Craig’s list for $50. She was so small and afraid when her breeder came and basically dumped her at my house.  He left without any instruction or information. That was my first big mistake. I did not do my due diligence and had not a clue as to what I was doing. I did not know how much she should eat, or required for housing, or that her hoofs needed to be trimmed or how young they can start breeding. All I knew was my Betty was adorable. My second baby was little Archie. I had no intention of getting a second pig, but walking through our local swap meet just a few weeks later; there he was, sitting in a small bird cage, in his water bowl. It was about 100 degrees out and I felt so bad for him that I bought him (for $25) and brought him home. So now I had a male and a female, both around 3 months old at the time. They bonded so quickly and I was glad they had each other.

As you may have guessed by now, a mere 3 months later (at 6 months old) Betty was pregnant! This was the point my adventure truly began. At 9 months old Betty gave birth to 5 healthy piglets, I finally got myself on line and I was lucky enough to connect with Marlies Reno who runs Pig Harmony. She did not judge, although I’m sure she had plenty of opinions with every email I sent.  She got me pointed in the right (information) direction, helped me spay/neuter all the babies and even place them in forever homes. Two went on to become “Therapy Pigs” at the Orange County Rescue Mission. And of course, right after the birth of the babies, Archie went in for his neuter as well.

You have no idea how angry I was with myself for allowing this to happen! Why would I be so irresponsible when it came to potbellied pigs when I was an advocate of spay/neuter/research for all other animals? All I can think is that I was sucked into the cute little piglet propaganda. And honestly, how many TV spots depict the 7, 10 or 14 year olds? The general public doesn’t have a clue. On the upside, I have learned so much these last 6 years and am now a strict advocate for education, spay/neuter and responsible pig ownership. For the right people what beautiful pets they can be!!

So now I do what I can from my little corner of the world. I’ve constructed a foster pen in the backyard where I take in pigs that are dumped at the local shelters. I have a great network ( CPPA, Pig Harmony, SCAMPP, LOH and many others) that help me to spay/neuter and place PBP’s in their forever homes. And the big key here: EDUCATION!!  I will continue until I help at least 10 times for each of those 5 piglets that were born into the world when there are so many displaced. Had I done my research that would have never happened, and it should have never happened.

Editor's note:  While Marilyn's path to rescue may not have been the best one, she has become a superstar rescuer in the Southern California area, who CPPA has learned to count on.  I have lost count of the number of rescues that she has taken on in her area.  Marilyn, please keep up the great work.  We'll continue to help you in any way that we can.

Pigs are extremely sociable, enjoying good company,
even if it belongs to another species.