It's not grunt work
By Diane Wagner
August 23, 2001

ŠThe Daily Herald 2001

Ola resident enjoys being part of a network that 
places discarded potbellied pigs

Lucille was a beautiful baby but, when he grew up, he became a bit of a boar.  The 225-pound "miniature" Vietnamese potbellied pig is one of the dozens of unwanted porkers rescued by Ola resident Denise Joyner.  "People get them when they're so little," Joyner said. "They love them and cuddle them and, a couple of years later, they're 200 pounds and people don't want them anymore."

Because Lucille has undescended testicles, his original owners thought he was a female. Joyner added him to her personal pig collection, which now numbers five.  "People aren't going to take obese pigs like Lucille," she said, noting that species adults should ideally weigh between 50 pounds and 75 pounds.

Right now she also has temporary custody of five other pigs that she rescued from animal shelters in Cobb and DeKalb counties.  "A lady is coming today to look at two of the Cobb girls," Joyner said, referring to the sows. "And a lady from Florida who runs a "pig train" is coming next week to drive the DeKalb boys to a refuge in Arkansas."

Joyner is part of an international network of potbellied pig lovers who work via the Internet to educate people on the intelligent animals and place those pigs that are discarded by their owners.  Jackson resident Victoria Bragg, who helped start the Pigs As Pets network, said the pigs were overbred at the height of their popularity and now they're a glut on the market.  "Basically, it's a fad gone bad," she said. "People have been dumping them. Unneutered males smell to high heaven and are aggressive. Once they're fixed, they're wonderful. When they're not, they're worse than any dog or cat."

The nonprofit Pigs As Pets Association is based in Fort Myers, Fla., but the chain extends across the country and into Australia and England through links like Joyner and Bragg.

At www.pigsaspets.org, the group posts information about potbellied pigs' needs and behavior; about nearby veterinarians and even about fighting zoning restrictions.

A bulletin board called Belly Rub helps match unwanted pigs with potential owners or refuges.

"Anyone who is interested shouldn't buy from a breeder. Adopt one," Joyner said. "There are so many who need to be adopted."  The pigs live about 12 or 15 years, so adopting one is a big decision, Bragg said. Properly cared for, however, they make excellent pets.  "They don't bark and they don't get fleas," Bragg said. "They get along great with other animals and, if they've been raised with kids, they get along great with them, too. They need a yard, but pigs are perfect for people who have allergies."

Check the Web site to adopt or place a pig or donate to the association, or call Bragg at (770) 735-1876 or Joyner at (770) 954-1293.


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