Sanctuary in VA is happy home of rescued pot-bellied pigs

(NBC) - There's a sanctuary in Scottsville that's giving some hogs a happy home. The Pigtailz Junction Sanctuary is home to more than 60 pigs once abandoned or rescued.

Mary Ann Piatkowski was given a pet pig named Wilbur for Christmas about 10 years ago and instantly fell in love with him. Then slowly, other pet owners turned to her for help when they realized raising a pig at home wasn't ideal. That's when she began the sanctuary.

Today her family of pigs has grown tremendously. The pigs have a comfortable life. They nestle inside when it's cold, have a steady supply of food but most of all they get plenty of love.

"They grow on you and the first thing you know, you don't know what you ever did before you had a pig," said Mary Ann Piatkowski, founder of Pigtailz Junction Sanctuary.

There's Pearl and Maui, even a piggy named Izzie who thinks she's a dog.

"Many times people will be like, yeah we saw a pig walking down the road following behind a couple of dogs," said Lorelei Velez, Piatkowski's daughter.

There are 63 potbelly and farm pigs in all. They are Piatkowski's babies that were rescued and now roam together on eight acres at the sanctuary. Piatkowski said many people don't realize having a pig for a pet is difficult. As a pig lover, she began taking in abandoned pigs in New Jersey. Then in 2004, she and her family moved to Virginia because they needed more space.

"I have Maui over here. A couple went to Hawaii on their honeymoon. Saw her in a pet shop and thought it was great to bring her back to an apartment in New Jersey until the neighbors and the health department found out," said Piatkowski.

All of the pigs at the sanctuary have a story of how they came to Piatkowski.

Clyde was on his way to be butchered and luckily fell off the slaughter truck and was rescued.

Potbelly pigs can range from 50 to 150 pounds. They eat about $600 worth of pig chow a month. Piatkowski relies on donations and sells pig memorabilia online to raise money. Pig lovers can also sponsor a pig at Pigtailz Junction Sanctuary for $25 a month.

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