5 Jul 2019

Jenny and Craig - two not so little pigs!

From Nine To Noon, 9:38 am on 5 July 2019

Two seriously overweight kune kune pigs, Jenny and Craig, are in SPCA foster care after a report of concern about their size. They are both on a strict no carb, herbivorous diet. Craig had been having trouble walking because his stomach was dragging on the ground. 

Jenny and Craig

Jenny and Craig Photo: SPCA NZ

The two kune kune pigs were surrendered to the SPCA in Christchurch, after a report of concern about the size. 

Currently, Jenny and Craig are in foster care and what they eat is being strictly monitored through a couple of photographs of them on our web page. 

Craig's stomach is touching the ground. Jenny isn't much smaller.

SPCA Canterbury's chief inspector, Jamie Hancock, said animal neglect was usually associated neglect or starvation, rather than over feeding, but that's also a form of neglect.

"So it's much of a welfare issue for an animal to be extremely overweight or obese evidence for them to be really thin.

"We probably get less cases of overfeeding reported to us then underfeeding. And I think that's probably a sign that people don't realize that it's a problem and they don't report it to us as much.

"We were visiting the property and response to a welfare complaint about animals at the property. And an inspector found the pigs in that condition, and was obviously concerned for their overweight condition and was able to negotiate with the owner and signed over to the SPCA, so we could take care of them."

Ms Hancock wasn't sure how the owner handled the situation, but said she thought it was "more than likely the owner didn't realise that the obese condition of the pigs wasn't okay, and that the diet that they were being provided wasn't appropriate. 

"They had access to a lot of grass in a large area, which was great and which was what they needed. But as well as that they were given ... a lot of junk food. 

"So leftovers from supermarkets ... and bakery types goods like fries and buns and things which are just too high sugar, high calorie. And [it was] just too much for them. And obviously, they were preferring that junk food over the health food of the grass that was available to them as well."

The SPCA didn't have scales that could weigh the pigs.

"I think they're well over 100kgs each pig, they're so obese, Craig especially - the male one, he's so fat. He was so fat that his stomach was dragging on the ground and his little back feet were actually stepping on his stomach when he tried to walk.

"They were so fat they were hard to wake up, let alone get up and get them to stand. And it took six SPCA staff members about an hour to coax these two guys onto a horse float." 

They were even getting sores and having breathing problems.

"The foster care is actually having to get in and open up the fat folds on their faces and wipe the skin to prevent skin infections," Ms Hancock said.

After a few weeks, they're now doing much better - although Craig did pack a bit of a sulk after being put on a his new healthy diet.

"He's come around to it now And they're both feeling much better. They're both much more active, mobile, and a lot happier in themselves. They're on a diet of just grass, and just a small handful of pellets, which helps them get all their minerals in a balanced diet.

"But aside from that, really all they're getting is grass. And Craig's stomach is now a centimetre off the ground ... It might take another three months before they're done to an appropriate sort of body condition that we'll be able to put them up for adoption."

Foster carers played a big role in caring for the pigs.

"We're really lucky that we do have quite a list of people that are available, have made their properties available for these types of animals. So we do foster out horses, sheep, goats, and pigs and things like that all the time. So we are really, really grateful to the group of foster carers that make their properties and time available to these animals," Ms Hancock said.

She also warned about overfeeding in pets.

"There are some kitchen scraps and human food scraps that can be healthy for your pet. So you may be able to give them some of your own leftovers, but then you might need to consider reducing a little bit of the regular food, the regular meal that you would have given them to sort of balance that out. 

"And if people have any concerns or they're unsure what body condition their pet's in, whether the diet that they providing them is appropriate, I just can't encourage people enough to talk to their vet. They're ... the authority on what your pet's body condition is. And they'll be able to give you some guidance on ... any dietary changes that may and they might be able to produce low calorie foods and things like that, if necessary."