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Piglets finding homes at Iowa Mini Pig Rescue

contributed photos — Iowa Mini Pig Rescue Founder Emily Oliver with one of their rescue piglets.

Adopting a single pig from the Animal Rescue League, Emily Oliver never intended to end up with a barnfull.

“Pigs are great as groups, so we got her a friend,” Oliver said. “Once people saw I had pigs on my Facebook I started getting messages. ‘Oh, can you re-home this pig’ or ‘We need to get rid of this pig.’ We didn’t intend to become an actual rescue. It just kind of spiraled from there, but in a good way for sure.”

Oliver founded Iowa Mini Pig Rescue in 2018 and has been located in the Marshalltown area since July.

One of the main reasons the Iowa Mini Pig Rescue receives pigs is due to misconceptions.

“People think there is such a thing as a teacup pig or a micro pig. These are fake marketing terms, they are not real. Mini pigs are real,” Oliver said. “People think they’re getting a pig that’s as an adult the size of a Yorkie. That’s completely impossible.”

The three piglets Iowa Mini Pig Rescue is currently raising funds for.

Mini pigs are any pig weighing less than 300 pounds. The average weight of a mini pig is 150 pounds and the average lifespan is 15 to 20 years.

Oliver said some breeders perpetuate the myth of teacup pigs or micro pigs by breeding very young pigs together, and then show pictures of the parents to potential adopters to make it seem like the newborn pig will only grow to the size of its parents.

“People see a piglet for sale and it’s super cute and they go for it, and they don’t realize what they’re getting,” Oliver said.

Underage piglets are notoriously hard to raise. If separated from their mother, bottle-fed piglets can aspirate milk leading to pneumonia, and need special heating and supplement requirements to stay healthy.

On Saturday, Oliver will attempt to intercept three separated 11-day-old piglets from an exotic animal auction in Fremont, Neb. She fundraised money to purchase the piglets at auction through Iowa Mini Pig Rescue’s Facebook group.

contributed photo A rescue pig named Mable, who Iowa Mini Pig Rescue found running down I-235 after jumping off a truck.

“Auctioning off piglets who are so vulnerable to anybody who has cash is basically a death sentence for them,” Oliver said. “We typically do not purchase pigs, it just continues the cycle of breeding, but in this case the piglets would die regardless and they would be sold regardless.”

Iowa Mini Pig Rescue has taken in pigs with behavior problems, pigs surrendered by owners, abandoned pigs and more. All pigs taken in are spayed or neutered and microchipped.

Oliver said many people interested in adopting a pig are not aware of the challenges of raising a mini pig, and said she has to turn down most people looking to adopt.

“This is not to say pigs are bad pets. They are excellent pets. You have to give them your full effort,” Oliver said. “Pigs are an interesting pet because they are smarter than dogs, but they are also very similar to toddlers in that they get destructive if they are bored. So finding a family that can handle them and is zoned for them is a challenge.”

The city of Marshalltown currently classifieds all pigs as livestock and does not allow them to be kept as pets, but Iowa Mini Pig Rescue is located just outside Marshalltown in an agricultural zone.

Iowa Mini Pig Rescue is fundraising money for the care of three piglets, who were taken in after the original owner allowed the piglets’ mother to give birth in the extreme cold of February. The piglets were kept outside, and all but four died.

Donation links, adoption applications and additional information about Iowa Mini Pig Rescue can be found on their Facebook group, by searching Iowa Mini Pig Rescue on Facebook.

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Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.

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