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PIGS Animal Sanctuary History
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Established in 1992, PIGS Animal Sanctuary is a 56-acre refuge for abused, abandoned, neglected and unwanted animals. The Sanctuary specializes in the care of miniature and domestic farm pigs but also provides a safety net to many other species, including, cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, turkeys, llamas and even a blind cow.

The history of the sanctuary dates back to 1985 when the Vietnamese potbellied pig, a new breed on the exotic market, was first introduced to the United States. The arrival of this pig started a media frenzy promoting a variety of miniature pigs, known as the ‘Yuppie Puppy’. Although the price for one of these designer pets could reach $10,000 – $15,000, the demand was so great that the breeders couldn’t keep up with buyers. Many people began breeding the miniature pig with the hopes of striking it rich, thus what was known as the potbelly pig industry.


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As this trendy pet of the 90’s began to grow, many buyers realized that they had been misled into buying something that really did not exist—a 30-pound pig—when in reality they easily reach 150 to 200 (or more!) pounds.  These perfect ‘pocket’ pets became destructive and aggressive when confined to a house or apartment. Pigs have the brain capacity of a toddler and they rank fourth in order of animal intelligence.

Many ‘owners’ were forced to put locks on their cabinets and refrigerators as the pigs quickly learned how to open everything. Also, their strong natural behavior to root resulted in floors and carpeting being ripped to shreds. As a pig reaches maturity, around 4-5 years of age, she/he will start challenging their herd mates to be the alpha pig. When a pig is raised in a home with a family, they consider their family as herd mates. You can imagine what happens then—suddenly this little baby pig becomes aggressive, ‘herding’ the family.

Another problem that arose is that many cities and municipalities had or created ordinances against owning pigs within their communities. The ordinances state any swine/pig, including miniature pigs, are strictly prohibited. Many families were forced to re-home their pigs. This ordinance still stands in most communities, and PIGS Animal Sanctuary receives countless pleas a year to take in pigs before officials seized them.

Owners began ‘dumping’ their pigs as there weren’t any resources in the early 90’s specifically for unwanted pigs. Pigs were being turned into shelters, where staff did not have the knowledge or means to care for them, or worse, they were simply let loose in the wild to fend for themselves—a nearly certain death.

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So, in 1992 a group of dedicated pig lovers purchased a 5-acre farmette in Charles Town, WV and started offering refuge to unwanted pigs and a few other animals in need. They called this farmette (a farm that doesn’t raise money by typical ‘farm’ activities) PIGS Sanctuary.

In 1999, the board of directors purchased 56 acres in neighboring Shepherdstown, WV and moved the sanctuary the following year. Within the beautiful pastures that exist today, the sanctuary has become a safe haven for hundreds of animals that had nowhere else to go.

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PIGS Animal Sanctuary works to expose the myths of miniature pigs, the horrid plight of factory farm animals, and humane care for all animals through our educational tours and events.

Twenty-five years later and with over 300 animals currently in our care, PIGS Animal Sanctuary believes that every animal deserves to a life without cruelty and neglect. Learn more by contacting us today. Your support will save lives.

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