LEE CO., GA (WALB) - South Georgia potbelly pig rescuers said they are seeing an increase in pigs being abandoned and starved as people try to make them pets.
Rescuers said South Georgians, who are buying pigs as pets, often don't educate themselves about the animals.
Some get rid of them within days of their purchase, but for Keith Jones sharing his home with a pig is something that's welcomed.
"You knew you want some grain," Jones affectionately said to his pig.
Jones and his girlfriend have rescued a handful of them that have been abandoned or given up on.
"When we were younger, we wanted a horse or something, but a lot of young girls will get them because they see cute videos on the internet," Jones said.
He adds the animals are a lot harder to take care of than most realize. Some breeders also use the terms micro, mini and teacup to sell them.
"Breeders are not always truthful about the pigs," Jones said. "They mislead people to thinking the pigs will stay 10, 20, or 30 pounds."
In reality, some can get up to 250 pounds.
But to market them as small, Jones said breeders may lie about the animals age and sell them off before they should be separated from their mother or even starve them.
"It's just a starvation diet is what it is," Jones said. "Its not for the health of the pig, but its actually for the owner's self-satisfaction of having a very small pig they can tote around."
That's why Jones said his collection of new best friends keeps growing.
"You can't see his ribs anymore," Jones said, discussing one of the animals he had taken in. "He was really boney back here."
He wants people to realize that pigs are smart, emotional creatures, which take a lot of time and effort to care for.
"I was not really that big of an animal person, until we started rescuing and seeing the growing need out there of just pigs that have been abandoned," Jones said.
Now, some pigs, that were once unwanted have a place to stay and someone to love them.
You can more information about pigs and what it takes to care for them at the Mini Pig Info website.