Tell WI NO ear tags for pet pigs
Tell WI NO ear tags for pet pigs
The state of Wisconsin is one of many states that provides no protections for pigs. The state places pigs into two classifications: commercial swine and micro pigs. The current law regarding pig classifications, passed March 27th of 2018, classifies any pig greater than 80 pounds as commercial swine and any pig less than 80 pounds as a “micro” pig. In all reality, any pig under 80 pounds would be considered starved or not yet fully grown regardless of being a farm pig or potbelly pig. Recognized size classifications by all veterinary colleges and rescues/sanctuaries all over the country, is that a "mini" pig is any fully grown pig under 400 pounds and any full grown pig over 400 pounds would be considered commercial/farm/production/heritage, which are intended for slaughter. The state of Wisconsin is under the illusion that micro pigs are an actual breed of pig. Breeders use the term “micro” as a marketing ploy to get people to buy what are in actuality potbelly pigs. They also throw around other clever names such as mini, teacup, dandy, nano, juliana, American mini and pixies. None of these names are recognized as breeds of swine. Because of this law all rescuers/sanctuaries and pet owners are now classified as having commercial swine and are required to have ear tags in their pigs with no exemptions. Breeders are exempt from this flawed law under their campaign of misinformation that they are able to produce fully grown pet pigs under 80 pounds and that their ears would be too small to accept this commercial tag.
Local pig rescuer, TJ Dercks has 22 rescued pigs. Two are commercial sized pigs or as TJ calls them her big pigs: Kip, who is special needs with a neurological disorder and Kiwi. There are also three potbellied pigs who are physically disabled with one in a wheelchair, one with Down’s Syndrome and the rest are potbellies who come from traumatic beginnings or who have lost their homes through no fault of their own. Her facilities are kept clean, her pigs are healthy and disease free, and they all receive top end veterinary care especially on arrival.TJ helps other pig parents in need by providing advice and support. Through social media platforms TJ networks with people all over the country, connecting people with pigs in need. TJ also works with Animal Control and animal protection agencies such as the local Humane Society, Alliance for Animals and Esther’s Army, to name a few. These are just some of things that TJ does for the love of pigs.
Recently, in a malicious move, a resident in Wisconsin called the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture falsely accusing TJ of providing poor animal care for her pigs and of stealing a pig and cutting off its ear tag. This same resident has also been calling TJ’s town, falsely claiming they were a neighbor and issued multiple fake complaints, and called her employer multiple times. An AG officer showed up at her home informing her she was in violation of current Wisconsin swine laws per the complaint. He did have it noted in her file that she called a year ago asking about what permits rescues needed but were unable to answer her questions as they did not yet have policies in place for rescues/sanctuaries/pets or if potbelly pigs were even included. During the last year since the swine policy was created it has been changed three times, and still with no clarity in regards to rescue/sanctuary pigs. The inspector informed TJ the animal care seen was excellent and that portion of the inspection was closed, then she was informed if she was using microchips as identification then a scanner would need to be on site.
By the next day through overnight mail, a scanner was on site and verified by the vet that it was in working operation. Two days later, Tj and the vet received a phone call by the inspector stating he was mistaken and ear tags would need to be punctured through their ear in order to be in compliance. They were also made aware that the pot belly pigs were considered commercial because they aren’t “teacup pigs.” The vet explained teacup/micro pigs do not exist in his accurate medical opinion. The vet also offered to comply with identification checks as often as they felt necessary if they would allow already implanted microchips to be allowed as originally instructed. After receiving notice the decision was turned down, the vet pursued a higher level which was the state veterinarian only to be given the same outcome but instead using the term “micro". The vet explained the seizure risk with Kip if he were to be tagged, the solution given was to sedate him prior. The state vet also informed him microchips wouldn’t be allowed for the reason of death occurring of Tj and the possibility the microchips filtering into human food or damaging the knife at the slaughterhouse. Tj has a legal guardianship if this event would occur even including transporting to the guardian.
TJ was also informed she needs to purchase a dealer’s license just to be able to help find homes for pigs even though these pigs never enter her property and no money is ever received or any item in exchange. Evidence given to support this ruling was Facebook posts of new pig owners saying Thank you to Tj. Also a trucker’s permit is also needed for dealers, just to take her pigs to the vet! She is being held to the standards of a calf seller/commercial breeder even though she is clearly anything but. TJ was also informed that all of her pigs were in violation of not having ear tags, even though the law states that pet pigs do not require ear tags and that microchips are in fact acceptable. The AG officer as well as the state vet are claiming that pet pigs are anything 80 pounds and less and therefore all of TJ’s pigs will be treated as commercial breeding swine for consumption regardless of her being a rescue where they will live until death. Rescues and pet pig owners are now being held to the same standards as commercial pigs whereas breeders are not and don’t have to ear tag any pigs in their possession or any that they produce.
We need to let the state of Wisconsin know that this is not acceptable! Rescue pigs, no matter what their weight, should not be required to follow the same identification laws nor be held to the same standards as commercial swine. Separate policies and permits should be created for rescue pigs.
Such policies could include:
A. a permit for rescues and rescue pigs having a microchip or tattoo for identification
B. disease policy that is acceptable and understandable
C. establish programs through AC, HSUS (Humane Society of the US), and the ASPCA to educate the public about rescue and their role in the community; pigs and their health, housing, handling, transportation, and general pig myths
D. permits for volunteers that transport or foster pigs
E. stricter policy to be applied to pet pig breeders so as to slow the production of pet pigs flooding the state and causing an overflow at rescues/sanctuaries and to lessen the heavy financial burden on dog and cat shelters
Unfortunately for TJ and her pigs the AG department is demanding that the pigs be ear tagged immediately. This is a painful procedure that can result in infection or the tag being ripped from the ear if it gets caught on something. In Kip’s case, this would be extremely difficult as he only has one ear and a neurological head shake. TJ needs your support to fight this! TJ will NOT give up in supporting the pigs in her care and standing up for ALL pigs in the state of Wisconsin. Please help TJ achieve her goal of establishing policy to protect rescues, sanctuaries, and pet owners so they won’t have to fear their pigs being confiscated, euthanized, or forced to have painful ear tags put in that many times get ripped out, or in TJ’s case, special needs pigs that are unable to tolerate such things due to severe abuse history or neurological disorders.
PLEASE STAND STRONG AND TALL WITH TJ AND ALL PIGS BIG AND SMALL!!