These pigs are living high on the hog

Briana Petersen of Burlington gets up close with a couple of pot-bellied pigs on Sunday at an open house at Ralphy's Retreat Animal Sanctuary in St. Williams. Michelle Ruby/Postmedia Network

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They call it a place to snout about.

And hundreds of pig lovers who were treated to a tour of Ralphy’s Retreat Animal Sanctuary in St. Williams on Sunday seemed to agree.

They were there to meet Peaches, Finnegan, Rupert, Hermione, Lottie Dottie, Chubby Checker, Mr. Tulips, and a passel of other pot-bellied pigs.

Thanks to Kara Burrow, who founded the retreat in 2003, pigs that were in need of “re-homing,” or had been abandoned, neglected or abused, are now living high on the hog.

A team of volunteers helps Burrow run the orderly, not-for-profit operation where the animals are well fed, safely housed, and receive individual attention.

Burrow said many of the pigs she takes in are from people who get a pot-bellied pig as a pet without doing their research.

Having pigs as pets has become trendy over the last few years, with breeders advertising them as micro pigs, mini pigs or teacup pigs. Burrow said there’s no such thing and people are shocked by how big the animals get.

“Part of our mandate is to get out and educate people,” she said as she was leading Sunday’s tours.

Burrow said pigs are therapeutic, artistic, and in tune with human emotions. She has about 100 animals in her care and others in foster homes.

Without a paid staff, Burrow is always looking for volunteers. The sanctuary is also home to horses, donkeys, guinea pigs, a rabbit, cats, dogs and roosters.

It operates solely on donations and fundraising. Burrow hoped to take in about $8,000 in donations at Sunday’s open house, with much of the money going toward paying for the animals’ veterinary care.

The event also included a kid’s zone, vegan barbecue, strawberries and cream treats, and a bake sale.

Burrow also holds other fundraising events throughout the year, including yoga with the animals, and a barnyard boot camp.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the sanctuary should contact ralphysretreat@gmail.com

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