ROCKFORD (WATE) – “Sweetie” the pig is on a strict diet after she was surrendered by her owner to the Blount County SPCA. She weighed 350 pounds at the time she was surrendered.
The potbellied pig’s owner surrendered her to the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Animals because they could no longer take care of her. Blount County SPCA said it took them hours to get her on a trailer because she was overweight, she did not want to leave her pen.
Sweetie is at Shepherd’s Green Sanctuary run by Chad Tilson. He says Sweetie was one of the biggest potbellied pigs he has ever encountered, adding her owners fed her table scraps, milk and hot dogs.
“She has to lose at least 200 pounds. She should only be about 150 pounds,” said Tilson.
Tilson says diet is the only way to get a pig to lose weight.
“You definitely don’t put them on a treadmill. Basically it’s diet. You have to cut back on the amount of food that they get,” added Tilson.
Sweetie will get about one cup of grain twice a day and be able to eat as many vegetables as she’d like.
The focus is on getting Sweetie healthy because there are concerns with her heart and joints, and she’s blind.
“When a potbellied pig gets so overweight, they have fat rolls that cover their eyes and that immediately blinds them. If they ever lose weight in the future, they’ve had their loss of eyesight for so long they generally don’t regain it,” said Tilson.
Weight loss could take a year or more but Tilson believes she’ll eventually lose all that weight. Sweetie may go to another rescue but she may end up calling Shepherd’s Green Sanctuary home.
“I have a lot of pigs because I keep them and say I’m going to find them a home but then I get attached to them,” said Tilson.
Shepherd’s Green Sanctuary said pigs can be a bit pig-headed when it comes to exercise They say there is no way to get her to do something she doesn’t want to do, so they’re encouraging Sweetie to walk around on her own.
Rescue groups encourage owners to become educated on the proper nutrition before purchasing a pet. While breeders and pet shops may claim they have micro-mini pigs, rarely do the pigs remain under 50 pounds at maturity. Potbellied pigs are a big commitment and we’re told the animal has to live outside, have specific food, care and vet bills are generally very expensive.