Help the pigs

Winter 1997



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Veterinarian Dan Kennedy, who has a special interest in potbellied pigs, said Grace's hooves were excessive.

"I've never seen anything like that at all," said Kennedy, who estimated Grace's hooves had grown to 12 to 15 inches and could have eventually crippled her. "Her feet are one in a million, that's for sure," he said.

Kennedy said before Grace, the longest hooves he had seen on a pig were about 4 inches. Kennedy said he estimates Grace at between 5 and 7 years old, and that her hooves probably grew all those years without being cut.

With Grace under anesthesia, Kennedy trimmed the pig's hooves back to a manageable size. He used clippers and a blacksmith tool used to trim horse hooves. With a lot of elbow grease, Kennedy cut away the long twisted mess. Then, he used an electric file to smooth Grace's newly shaped hooves.

Although Grace's condition was rare, some potbellied pig owners do get in over their heads, Kennedy said.

About 10 years ago, 17 potbellied pigs were the first to be brought to the United States. At that time, breeders sold the animals for upward of $5,000. Within five years, there were more than 40,000 of them, he said.

"They were a novelty, I think," Kennedy said. "People grew up with 'Charlotte's Web' and wanted to have a pig."

Nowadays they sell for about $25, but in many cases, people are giving them away, Kennedy said. What bothers Kennedy and Woods the most is that people are still being told these pigs will stay small - about 40 pounds or so - and that they make good household pets.

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Grace could barely walk because of the length of her hooves

Grace's hooves before the procedure