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Saving their bacon: Potbellied pig rescue operating at Warwick farm


Susan Magidson did not set out initially to rescue potbellied pigs. In 1990, her plan was to breed and sell them as pets. But she soon learned there was no need for breeding because there were already so many pigs in need of rescue and a home to call their own.

Her passion for the idiosyncratic creatures continued to grow until now 33 years later, Ross Mill Farm, a picturesque property with old stone barns and outbuildings, a gazebo and beautiful gardens is home — hopefully temporarily — to 170 pigs.

Ross Mill Farm in Warwick is headquarters of the Pig Placement Network whose mission is “To promote domesticated pigs as pets. To promote education to pet pig owners, veterinarians, animal shelters, and the public. To work with animal shelters, humane societies, and pet pig owners to rescue unwanted, abused, or abandoned pet pigs and place them into new, loving homes.”

The money made from the farm’s products and services is used to finance rescue and care of the pigs until they are adopted.

The farm provides various services, boarding for one. As Magidson pointed out, “Finding someone to care for your special pet when you have to be away can be difficult.”

Ross Mill Farm caters to special requirements and can provide the ideal environment for potbellies. Grooming, veterinary care, transport and consultations are also offered. There is a webinar series for advice on all things pig-related. The Piggy General Store carries a variety of products, among them Champion Premium Potbellied Pig Food made from Susan’s own recipe.

Tours of two or three groups can be arranged on Saturdays and Sundays, with private tours given on weekdays, all by appointment only.

The focus remains the Pig Placement Network, whose mission is to unite pet pigs with those who will love and care for them, and, until that day comes, to provide loving foster care.

Magidson says that potbellies come here for a variety of reasons.

One adorable baby — Willamina — was abandoned at a feral cat colony in Philadelphia. (Cats tend to make agreeable companions to pigs.) A group of homeless people living on the streets nearby observed the strange new member of the colony and called for help.

Another current resident, baby Jack, had suffered neglect so severe that his sister did not survive. Nine other young pigs had been intentionally bred at a reptile facility to be food for large snakes. They were rescued just in time.

When pigs come to Ross Mill Farm, they undergo a process whereby they are quarantined for 30 days, inoculated, de-wormed, microchipped, and, most importantly, socialized.

Magidson said she has seen pigs arrive traumatized almost to the point of paralysis and she knows the importance of getting these sensitive animals acclimated before considering adoption applications.

Not everyone is a good match to be a pig parent, Magidson said. Potential adopters must be knowledgeable about pigs and their needs or at least be willing to learn before bringing one home.

Despite the dire situations of some of the animals, the atmosphere at Ross Mill Farm is upbeat and playful. Everywhere there are lounging pigs. Some gambol about seeming to enjoy the beautiful grounds, while cheerful staff and volunteers, always willing to talk to visitors, minister to their needs.

Janet O’Connor, a staff member, shared her amusement at some of the names, such as Prince Harry, Ebeneezer, Pig Newton, Eleanor Piggly, Piggy Smalls, and some more darkly themed, like Hamlet, Sausage Link, and Kevin Bacon.

While donations in any amount are appreciated, and can be made at, the most immediate need is for volunteers.

There is a need for gardening, working in the Pig Store, repairing fences, searching websites such as Craigslist and Petfinder for listings about pigs in need and attending local events to help get the story out.

Also, there is always a need for dedicated pig belly rubbers.

College, church, or Scout groups can also help, Magidson said.

Currently, the Network is seeking an art student to assist with social media graphics. The rescue is also offering an internship to someone perhaps studying veterinary science, journalism, or videography who would be willing to go live once a week to raise awareness of Ross Mill Farm and its mission.

For more information, call 215-322-1539.

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