Although I am against ownership of animals and totally agree that they should not be ‘property’, there are quite a few that share my life. Being an animal lover and vegan opens the door for animals to be ‘given’ to me after they have served their purpose where they were. I would not turn away an animal, they were born into being an owned commodity, and therefore need our love and respect until such a time that abolition of animal ownership is reached.
I would like to introduce to you two of the family members … Missy and Mandy.
Missy came to me from a family that were living in a rental property but the landlord wanted to move back in and of course that meant that a new location had to be found - a location that would ‘allow’ a pet Kune Kune who was already a year-and-a-half old and rather large. Well, of course, how many landlords would want that? So, Missy came to live with me. She is bossy and obstinate and I love her dearly. When she was a little piglet she was attacked by two dogs, hence the reason for only one ear – she is a very lucky girl to have survived. Her previous family loved her very much and still come to visit her when they can. Unfortunately her diet consisted of food off non-vegan human plates, takeaway foods and dog biscuits. And for the record - it is not easy weaning a large pig off takeaways!
Mandy was living alone and lonely in a very confined area filled with huge farm equipment and oily mud, no grass, just mud, her stomach was dragging on the ground and her hooves were about 4-inches long and curled upwards, one even curled underneath her foot and she found it very difficult to walk. She was not a happy girl at all and did not seem to have much ‘zest’ for life. Mandy had never been treated for worms and had been fed on household scraps. Her teeth are badly worn for one so young (same age as Missy) and she had bad eczema. She was originally bought from a petting-zoo (yuck, yuck, yuck, hate the idea) for the previous owners’ daughter who quickly lost interest as Mandy grew out of her cute piglet stage and got bigger. When I went to pick Mandy up the daughter was playing on the trampoline with her friends and was not even interested in saying goodbye to her. What is that teaching the daughter? That it is ok when you have lost interest with an animal it can just be ignored and then got rid of? They are dispensable and replaceable?. Just like many children who are not taught respect for non-human life, she will not learn the value of a life and will be taking into her adulthood and therefore teaching any future children she will have the perpetual continuance of animal ownership and disregard for their welfare or happiness. Mandy is an extremely docile and loving girl, a real pleasure to have in my life. She now runs (in a Kune Kune sort of way) when she sees me, and is starting to trim down a little, although her feet will never be 100% I think (no, I don’t think, I know) that she is alot happier for having her hooves trimmed, it took six attempts to get them down to a semi-acceptable length. She always rolls over for a belly scratch and ‘pleasure grunts’ when I start trimming her hooves and is generally fast asleep before I have finished the first one. Her prognosis for a long happy life was not great, but when I first saw her, I knew, and she knew, there was something there, a bond, a mutual respect. The ‘owners’ could not get her to move onto the trailer, no coaxing or bullying worked, I basically just told them to ‘stop’, went over to her and gently stroked her and then stood and walked up onto the ramp and into the trailer with her following, with everyone else just standing there with their mouths open. Pigs respond to love, not discipline.
Kune Kune pigs are grazers with a high fibre diet just like sheep and cows are, they should not eat household scraps, takeaways or dog food. The only form of feeding should be proper pellets/nuts for pigs, without ruminants, and only as a supplement feed when the grass is not growing in winter. They are opportunists where fruit is concerned and have sharp hearing for when fruit drops from a tree. You should see Missy and Mandy run!!!
I find it very sad that people get pigs just because they are ‘cute’ and it would be ‘cool’, but the reality is that pigs grow, and can grow quite big too. Just like kittens and puppies the piglet shares the same fate of looking cute when young, being bought because they are cute, then discarded when the owner realises that they don’t stay 5-inches tall. The other thing that makes me really sad is that people think it is adorable to have a pig that is overweight. It is extremely cruel and does not make for a very happy life for the pig. They get serious issues with their limbs because of the weight they are carrying, arthritis can set in at a very young age and the fat folds will droop over their eyes and render them blind, even if they have lost weight after this stage the blindness can be irreversible. It is important to supply decent shelter as Kune Kunes can suffer from pneumonia if sleeping in exposed conditions and they also like a large amount of space to graze in. The girls come and go as they please into their ‘bedroom’ which has a concrete floor but I layed some old carpet squares down and have about eight inches of straw for them and a couple of blankets each. They just looooove to burrow themselves into the straw and make a wee ‘nest’. They roam around the orchard, can sleep in the sun, or under a peach tree in the shade (or walnut or apricot, etc, if they prefer), or even go for a mud bath in their wee pond.
I am hoping that while you are reading this, you are sparing a thought for all the beautiful pigs in this world who do not live a life of dignity or freedom - kept in cages, treated horrifically, and then sent to slaughter, their carcass served on a plate. What are we doing to these wonderful beings – these wonderful beings who share almost the same chromosomes as us. Chromosomes so close that when eaten by a human the human body thinks that it is committing cannibalism and therefore finds it extremely hard to process and digest. What, as a species, are we doing? Who, as a species, do we think we are? Better and worthier than another species? What gives us the right to treat non-humans in any other way than as respected individual worthy beings.
Pigs feel, pigs laugh, pigs cry, pigs play, pigs run, pigs amble, pigs love - and it is their right to do all this – for the whole of their lives.