By Jim Becker , KOLD News 13 Reporter
Vietnamese Pot-Bellied pigs were once the hip house pet. But a lot of people found they were hard to care for and got rid of them.
A marana woman has taken in 448 of them, but a car accident has left her in need. Mary Shanz is in rehabilitation after a car accident a week-and-a-half ago shattered her leg.
Meanwhile, the sanctuary she helped found back in 2-thousand has 448 pigs to take care of, and there's just too much work to do.
"The problem is overwhelming," said Donna Norton, manager of the sanctuary. "I'm still getting calls for people to release their pigs an average of 2 to 3 a week, and it just never stops."
Besides Ironwood, there is only one other place in Arizona where unwanted pot-bellied pigs go. Norton say the other isn't big enough to handle as many as there are here at ironwood.
She says many pet owners are surprised when these animals get as big as they do.
"A lot of people get them because they get 'em as babies. They're cute. They're little. Breeders tell them they're not going to grow to be more than 50 or 60 pounds," adds Norton, who thinks these pigs are still cute, no matter how big they get.
"These are my kids. I'm out here with them every day, and taking care of them. You get to know their names, their personalities."
Since the pigs are from the jungle in Vietnam, they're not used to Arizona weather, particularly cool winters. That means there's a lot of work to do, fixing up shelters, to protect them from the wind. But there are day-to-day chores, too.
In the meantime, with a key colleague on the mend after a car accident, others have had to double on their workloads.
If you want to help, you can call the ironwood pig sanctuary at (520) 631-6015, or log on to its website, Ironwood Pig Sanctuary