They’re cute, they seem like fun and thanks to social media, mini pigs are very popular right now.
But many new owners are unprepared for the responsibility and the changes that happen as they grow.
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This week’s Getting Results Award winner spends hours trying to find homes for the pets people no longer want.
Wilma Andino scrolled through her text messages. They are filled with photos of pigs and explanations on why their owners can no longer care for them.
“There’s a lot of people asking for help,” Andino said as she sat at her dining room table. Her pig-shaped earrings swayed back and forth as she glanced between her phone and tablet. “They come up with excuses but the real reason is they’re too big.”
This year alone, Andino has been able to find homes for more than 30 pigs. She says there were far too many she just couldn’t help.
“The breeders tell people that they will only grow up to 40 pounds,” Andino said. “But they turn out to be 200 pounds. If you don’t watch what you feed them, they can grow to 300 pounds.”
Andino’s interest in pet pigs started when she learned how smart they were. Then she rescued one of her own, a 4-year-old pot bellied pig named Mister.
“The more I learned, the more I appreciate them,” she said.
Mister has a bed in the corner and gets plenty of attention
. “It’s all because of Mister,” Andino laughs as she pets him. “He’s been through a lot but he’s a good boy.”
Andino lives in a residential area and can’t keep any more at her home, instead she tries to find homes and sanctuaries that will help.
“I get contacted from as far away as California,” she said. “They come from all over.”
Andino often helps transport them herself. She’s even driven her mini van to North Carolina to pick one up and bring it back to a sanctuary in Florida.
She knows in most cases an unwanted pig doesn’t have much time.
“Some of them don’t end up in good places. They end up being killed, abandoned or abused,” she said.
Andino’s daughter, Ilia Rivera, said her mom wasn’t always an animal lover. In fact, the family never had pets growing up.
“All of a sudden she rescued one and it started from there,” Rivera said.
“I feel sorry for them,” Andino said. “The more you know, the sadder you get about how they are treated.”
Andino said anyone thinking about getting a pet pig should visit a sanctuary first to see how big they can get and what owning one is like.