Newcastle animal shelter issues 'no more pigs' plea
An animal shelter, which is braced for an influx of unwanted pets after the festive season, has warned that it cannot accommodate any more pigs.
Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter said it had received seven in the past two years, and blamed the fashion for so-called "micro" or "tea-cup" pigs.
Three of the shelter's porcine intake had been sold under false pretences and then dumped when they got too big.
The others were a genuine small breed but were deemed unsuitable as pets.
Leyla Rutter, from the shelter, said: "We got three pigs in a short period of time.
"People had bought them from 'a man in a pub', thinking they were getting a micro pig, but then they grew and grew.
"However even the real micro pigs grow bigger than people believe and need a lot of work.
"They're not really pets, they are still farm animals. They can ruin a garden in minutes, dig up all your plants, and you can't really keep them in the house.
"They're very intelligent and need a lot of entertaining, if not they get bored and can end up eating your furniture or doors.
"Although you can put them into a harness and take them for a walk you need a licence to do so from your local council."
She said they had to keep the pigs currently in the shelter, because Newcastle "isn't really the kind of place where you'd get anyone to re-home them".
"We have some space, and they live happily here, but we're at full capacity and would struggle if we have to take any more in."
The British Kunekune Pig Society - which represents owners of a small breed of domesticated pig - said it was regularly contacted by people who had bought a "tiny" pig, which had grown to an unexpected size.
It said in a statement: "We as a society, do not agree with keeping pigs as house pets, as ... a minimum of half an acre of grazing is required for two and they should be kept in groups of two or more as they are a herd animal.
"If you are searching for a pet pig, a responsible breeder will always be happy to show you all their stock and answer questions."
As guidance, it added: "Use common sense ... and above all, consider the long-term commitment and responsibility of owning pigs."