Piglets rescued from Mount Leinster
Nine pot-bellied pigs found abandoned on Mount Leinster on the Carlow-Wexford border are believed to have been bred to be sold as pets at Christmas but instead dumped in the wilderness.
The pigs were discovered on Wednesday when a dog walker spotted a woman putting an empty cardboard box into her car. Suspecting that puppies had been abandoned; she investigated and found a miniature pig.
Failing to catch all the pigs, let loose on Ireland’s fifth highest mountain, the dog walker contacted the Enniscorthy-based South East Animal Rescue from where she had recently adopted her dog.
“She had a go at catching them . . . she did catch a couple but she knew there was a lot more because she had seen more,” said Jean Stretch, a volunteer with South East Animal Rescue.
“It took two days but we eventually caught them all,” said Ms Stretch. “Somebody has been up there today just looking to be sure that there aren’t any more up there. But we think we got them all.”
Upsurge in popularity
An upsurge in the popularity of Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, native to the mountains of Vietnam and Thailand, as fad pets, has led to greater demand for them.
Once selling for up to €150 here, some have recently been advertised on Buy & Sell for as little as €20.
“We think they were bred to be sold at Christmas,” said Ms Stretch. “But Christmas is over and they realised they wouldn’t sell them in January so they decided to get rid of them.”
Though relatively small, the so-called miniature breed can grow to about a quarter to half the size of a normal pig and weigh anything from 35kg to 70kg.
Of the eight- to 12-week-old abandoned males, she said: “They are only babies, they probably would have starved. They were very cold and very hungry.”
The charity, which has found permanent homes for just three of the little pigs, is looking to rehome the other six as well as a further four subsequently surrendered to it.
“There are other ways to do this, there is always someone you can call for help or advice,” said Ms Stretch of the dumping. “It’s just cruel to dump them up there like that where there was little chance of surviving.
“We’d love to see them all rehomed.”
Meanwhile, gardaí are investigating an attack on a flock of sheep in Co Roscommon last weekend in which 46 ewes were killed.
Several dogs were involved in the attack on up to 95 ewes in lamb.
IFA national sheep chairman James Murphy warned dog owners to keep their animals under control at all times.
“Aside from the economic losses, for which dog owners can be held liable, the welfare implications for the flock can be very severe and long-lasting. Sheep never recover fully from a dog attack and can suffer ongoing difficulties, including reproduction problems and increased nervousness affecting their general health.”
Up to 2.5 million lambs will be born on 30,000 sheep farms across the Republic over the next three months.