Feeding time at the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary

It’s just after 6am and the sound of hundreds of pot bellied pigs clamoring for breakfast is rolling across the saguaros and Palo Verde Trees of the Sonoran Desert. Tim Mcavoy is going about the morning pig feeding at Ironwood Pig Sanctuary in Marana, Arizona.

The shelter is home to nearly 600 pot-bellied pigs that have been rescued from owners who can no longer afford to care for them. While they might look like an endless sea of wrinkled tails and bristly snouts to the casual bystander, Mcavoy says he knows each pig by name, calling out to them as he gives them their morning package of Fig Newtons.

“We all get to name them here, so there’s a pig out here named after each of our grandmothers, and then we start taking turns,” he says.

Mcavoy adds that the foreclosure crisis, combined with the fact that many families severely underestimate the amount of care a pot bellied pig needs, has resulted in a spike in the number of pigs taken in by the sanctuary. Ironwood, which was founded by Mary Schanz and Ben Watkins, now fosters abused and neglected pigs across the desert from Tucson to Phoenix and is supported through the donations of animal lovers across the country.

For more information about the organization, go to http://www.ironwoodpigsanctuary.org.

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