By Holly Morgan
Better Piggies Rescue is looking for volunteers to help care for the more than 100 pigs that currently call the local sanctuary home. Established as a nonprofit organization in 2018, Better Piggies works with various organizations throughout Arizona and California to rescue, rehabilitate, adopt, and educate the public about pigs. Unfortunately, pigs are purchased by owners because false promises are made from breeders that the tiny piglet will stay only 25 pounds fully grown. It is a lie that the Better Piggies team actively tries to debunk with proper education.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that this misconception still exists,” says Danielle Betterman, Director of Better Piggies Rescue. “In most cases, those very small pigs are weaned from their mothers too early in order to appear small and teacup-like. When the pig doesn’t stop growing after several months or exhibits behaviors of an unspayed or unneutered animal, which includes aggressive behaviors, owners decide they are too much trouble. Sometimes we get a call, but most of the time owners just dump their pigs in neighborhoods or the desert.”
In the past month Better Piggies Rescue has received over 50 calls for owner surrenders and 20 calls for rescue. Betterman isn’t shy about sharing each unique story with volunteers as it’s part of the education process. Some come from breeders who were trying to make a quick dime, others from irresponsible pet owners who failed to do research on the size of potbelly pigs, to animals who literally escaped death from slaughterhouses.
“We recently rescued a baby farm hog who jumped off the back of a moving truck that was headed to slaughter,” says Betterman. “She had severe road rash and a broken femur, but we were able to get her the care she needed and Samantha is doing just fine here at the rescue.”
Volunteers are crucial to the Better Piggies Rescue operation, especially in the summer. Several hours out of each day are dedicated to caring for the animals and making sure they stay comfortable in the extreme heat. Each month, the rescue runs a volunteer orientation that includes a tour of the facility plus a review of the volunteer’s responsibilities.
“Picking up poop, cleaning pools and wallows, and general blanket or trash pick up is required each volunteer session,” says Betterman. “However, the biggest item is socialization with the pigs. Since they are all rescues and haven’t had the best experience with people, it is extremely important that we have people sit with new pigs and gain their trust, give belly rubs, and comfort each pig during one of the hardest times of their lives. Volunteers are the reason that 99% of our rescue pigs now trust and love their human interactions and help get them adopted out.”
Better Piggies Rescue has volunteer availability for August through December, with spots filling up quickly. Orientation costs $25 per person and includes a shirt and decal. Children under 18 can attend but a parent or guardian must accompany them. To learn more, go to betterpiggiesrescue.org and click the volunteer tab.