Pot-bellied pigs found abandoned

Fri, Jan 4, 2013, 00:00

Nine pot-bellied pigs found abandoned on Mount Leinster on the Carlow-Wexford border are believed to have been bred for the Christmas market but dumped.

The pigs were discovered on Wednesday when a dog walker spotted a woman putting an empty cardboard box into her car. Suspecting puppies had been abandoned, she investigated and found a 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 isn’t any more up there. But we think we got them all.”

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.”

The so-called miniature breed can grow to about a quarter to half of the size of a normal pig and weigh anything from 35kg to 70kg.

Of the eight to 12 week-old males, she said: “They are only babies, they probably would have starved. They were very cold and very hungry.”

The pigs are now in a temporary foster home. The charity, which has found permanent homes for just three of the little pigs, is looking to re-home 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 there up there like that where they was little chance of surviving. We’d love to see them all re-homed.”

Meanwile, gardaí are investigating an attack on a flock of sheep in Co Roscommon last weekend in which 46 ewes were killed.

As many as seven 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 dogs 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.”

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