So You Started A Sanctuary
By: Lana Hollenback and edited by: Carol Eiswald
For many years now we've watched rescues and sanctuaries come and go. We've seen good ones and bad ones fail. Unless you want to spend the funds to join the sanctuary association, there is not much out there that helps a person fine tune his or her sanctuary.
We all talk a lot about not getting in over our heads, but that is a fine line. Knowing the cost, or an approximate cost, of expenses is the first step in figuring out just what you can afford now and in the future. Sometimes it's the many little things that we don't think about, such as food bowls, water bowls, pools for cooling in the summer months and water heaters for winter to keep their water from freezing. Of course we need adequate shelters, fences and gates. Hoof trims usually need to be done once or twice a year. Tusk trimming really depends upon your personal view of them. Many people don't trim tusks until they begin to reach their pigs' faces, but still it can be an expense if you aren't able to do them yourself. Remember that as your pig ages, so do you, and your ability to do these things decreases.
All pigs should be spayed and neutered, something that most of us take for granted. A female left intact stands an 82% chance of developing infections, cysts, tumors and even cancer. The cost of spaying when the pig is young is much less than it will be as she ages and gets larger. If pigs are healthy they can be spayed up to 14 years old, and males can be neutered up to 18 years old without much of a problem. Of course the risk of problems, including death, increases.
The average cost of taking in and keeping one pig is a minimum of $450.00 a year. Of course that goes up as they age, become ill or develop arthritis. A pig can live with the proper care to be 18 to 20 years old. For the sake of argument, let's say it lives for 19 years and is healthy all those years; that pig will cost you upwards of $8550.00. Multiply that by 10 pigs and you need $85,500.00. Remember that cost
does not include fencing, shelter and other veterinary care. One sanctuary I know has 140 potbellied pigs of all ages and many have developed health issues. The cost for their minimum care is $1,197,000.00. You think because you are young you can do this, but remember as those pigs age, so do you. It will become more difficult to maintain for 10 years let alone perhaps another 20 as the cost goes up. These are staggering figures for any sanctuary.
Let's look at some other things you also need to do.
You need to make a decision on whether or not you're going to allow visitors and/or volunteers. Remember that if you have any number of pigs, maybe a couple dogs, horses or other farm animals---or even just pigs, you will open yourself up to a lawsuit if only one person visits and they get hurt or bitten. Perhaps a visitor may fall down if an animal pushes against them, or he/she may stumble on a rock. You are responsible for all of these things. Let's look at insurance and see what it takes to protect yourself and/or your organization should you be sued. The cost of insurance will vary from state to state and also reflect upon the number of animals you harbor. When you have any kind of farm animal (that includes potbellied pigs) your insurance will be based on the size of your place and the number of animals that you have at the sanctuary. It's called Liability Insurance. Coverage for keeping just a few animals in a rural setting can begin at about $2,000.00 a year, but again it depends on the location and number of animals.
One thing you can do that helps is to not allow visitors or volunteers at your place, while remembering it's most likely they will spread the word about your sanctuary and help bring in much needed funds. There is one thing you can do to lessen vulnerability. You can have all visitors or volunteers sign a Release of Liability Agreement, but it has to be very specific to meet the needs of where you live and the animals you own. Additionally, if you charge a person for anything you do, either at your place or theirs (such as trimming hooves), your Release of Liability Agreement becomes invalid because that makes yours a commercial place and not a private sanctuary/non-profit.
You need to have your property legally posted as “POSTED” and “NO TRESPASSING”. An added statement would be to post “NO CAMERAS ALLOWED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE OWNER(S)”.
No trespassing signs should be posted around the perimeter of your property. You would have to check with your attorney or state laws to see how many you would need to put up and where. This will enforce your Release of Liability Agreement. No one should be allowed to film or take pictures without your permission unless you are present and give that permission to those who wish to take them. Only
the law with a warrant or reasonable concern can and should be allowed to take pictures when you are not present.
There are other places needing to be posted. Your hospital or area for compromised pigs should be posted and off limits.
No one should be allowed to visit the pigs there, as they are either recovering or still being treated for an illness. The hospital area should have another paddock close by or attached for others who may become ill. Pigs adapt to their areas and build up an immunity of their own based on their environment and other animals they spend time with. Visitation there should be kept to those who run the sanctuary and are used to the pigs and vice versa. You must insure biosecurity here is beyond excellent. Use clean and separate overalls and boots. A pig stressed from having too many visitors may not tolerate having his or her immune system challenged. It could potentially make them more ill than they are. Post the hospital with no visitation and no camera signs. Make sure the pigs in the hospital do not make other pigs sick.
Another conspicuously posted place that you should have is a quarantine pen for new incoming pigs.
You must check with your state on the required size and location. Most quarantine pens have to be double fenced with a space between fences so pigs can't touch noses with other pigs or animals for 30 days. This in itself can prevent a catastrophe. If you take in a pig who have pseudorabies or brucellosis and put it in with your other pigs, it can cost them their lives. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Remember also that a quarantine pen or hospital area will add to your cost but might in the long run save as you are caring for the pigs now and in the future. Do it right or don't do it at all.