Central Texas Pig Rescue Is A Shelter For Abandoned Pigs: In Pig Heaven – News

Pigs hug each other in “The Enchanted Forest” (Provided by Central Texas Pig Rescue)

The inhabitants of Central Texas Pig Rescue seem right at home on the sanctuary’s new 26-acre property in Bastropnicknamed “The enchanted forest.” And they’re happy to give interviews.

Maxwell, a nice boy with squinted, smiling eyes and slick black hair, is the first pig to greet me at the CTPR. I admire his beautiful tusks as he lays down, granting me the privilege of rubbing his belly. Leprechaun, a beautiful tall girl with a black and pink complexion, is comfortable for our interview in her shady wooded nook where she has pulled out some roots to nibble on. Silver and hairy “Mama” Josie is a wonderful loveseat that runs its stitches in soft, continuous grunts. Agnes, with her pretty black and white coat, trots happily, with flapping ears, to inquire about snacks (a girl after my heart). These are some of the 203 pigs that are in the care of the CTPR. They came from all over the country after going through difficult situations – abandonment and abuse to name a few – but found a new lease on life.

The first thing you can do to help pigs is to stop eating them.

Dan Illescas founded CTPR in 2016 with the aim of supporting pigs and pig parents. The non-profit organization has since become a sanctuary to improve the lives of pigs and break down misconceptions about them. Pigs are considered livestock by federal law, which means they don’t have the same abuse protections as dogs and cats, even when kept as pets. CTPR moved from its 3-acre location to the new 26-acre property in 2021 to better serve its residents, Illescas said. But their exact location in Bastrop is private to keep residents safe and prevent pets from being dropped off at their doorstep. “The numbers tell the story,” he said. “95-97% of all pet pigs never stay in their original home.” He said locals were constantly reaching out, hoping to drop off their pigs.

While the rescue hopes to welcome more pigs to the sanctuary in the future, this is currently not feasible, said Tracey Stabile, administrator of the CTPR. “Are we hoping to accommodate more pigs? Yes. Especially the most urgent cases, situations where pigs have no other options,” she said. “But at the moment we don’t have the resources to raise more pigs: human resources are something we lack [and] funds are something we lack.”

The CTPR runs a repatriation support group to “safely graze unwanted pigs from house to house,” Illescas noted. But what about the current residents of the CTPR? They are here to stay, Illescas said. “We don’t really adopt them since we learned how emotionally connected pigs are to their family, it’s traumatic for them to move into a new home,” he said. “Pigs are extremely complex and very much like people.” He compares their intellectual and emotional capacity to that of a 2 or 3 year old human.

Behavioral complaints are a big part of why people try to give up their pig, Stabile noted. These problems are largely due to the pig’s environment, she said. Here, the pigs live on their own terms. “Watching the pigs thrive here, it feels like they’re living their best life,” Stabile said. “They need a nurturing environment, and we got to see their personalities blossom in different ways here and new behaviors that we’re really excited to see.” These behaviors include cooling in mud spas, making their own pathways through brush, and making nests under thickets of yaupon.

The land was mostly untouched before CTPR moved in, but now consists of carefully crafted quarters of pigs. Illescas has worked in construction for over 20 years, which has proven to be very helpful when building a shrine from scratch. Now that the resident pigs are settled into their new home, the team can focus on projects that improve the lives of CTPR volunteers, such as installing a well, running solar panels and providing install wind turbines on the property. “We need more power, that’s the most important thing,” Stabile said. “We survived the winter without heating and we are not connected to the electricity grid.” As a non-profit organization, the CTRP has relied on donations to fund its projects; it has no paid staff and is run entirely by volunteers. A small house will be delivered at the end of this month for their pet sitters to reside.

Even if you have all the best intentions, Illescas encourages most people not to adopt a pig. “Ultimately, I tell people to come visit pigs, hang out with pigs, go to sanctuaries, and get involved with sanctuaries.” It’s the best way for people to “see pigs differently” and cultivate meaningful connections.

Stabile said that once the needs of pigs and human residents are met, the organization can focus more on advocacy to change pig legislation. The first thing you can do to help pigs is to stop eating them, Stabile said. “There are a lot of people who come here and then tell us they stopped eating pork products when they left.” Illescas pointed to the pigs. “We let these people speak for themselves.”

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