None of them were named Porky, but Meagan Se knows the names of many of the pigs she has rescued and keeps in pens secluded on the southwest side of Sealy.
She calls them by name, pets and scratches them and feeds them candy treats while checking on them. To Se, the pigs aren’t livestock, they’re pets that she has rescued, some of them with horrific stories of torture and abuse.
As she walks through the pens, Se points out one that was burned, another that had its ears cut off, one has scars from a rubber band left around its snout, one badly scarred and blind in one eye from being used to train dogs, and a few others came with cracked skulls and other injuries from being attacked and beaten.
“I started this eight years ago with my first pig,” Se said.
That first mini pig led to a companion pig. Then they started taking in other pet pigs. Eventually, she and her husband, Buzz, founded Houston Mini Pig Rescue and Network. They were up to 40 pigs before Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017.
“After Hurricane Harvey hit, we exploded from 40 to 100 in two months’ time,” she said.
Houston Mini Pig Rescue is a nonprofit organization and until October was operating out of Brookshire. They were facing eviction and had to make an emergency move. That’s when one of the members of her board of directors offered land just outside of Sealy as a temporary location until the Ses could buy land for a permanent location.
“We want to stay in Sealy. We like this area,” she said.
Ideally, they’re looking for four to five acres out in the country where there is room to grow without neighborhoods encroaching on them.
“The two and a half acres we have now is not enough,” she said.
Se said she was aware that the neighbors around her location are unhappy that they’re there, but said she was “blindsided” to learn that the Sealy City Council had passed a nuisance ordinance aimed at her organization without anyone consulting her.
“This is a temporary location,” she said.
Her neighbors have gone to city council meetings to complain about the odor, resulting in the council passing the ordinance. Se noted that most of those same neighbors have cattle, horses and other farm animals, resulting in their own odors.
“There’s no difference between pigs and cows except that cows create more methane and stink than pigs do,” she said.
Not wanting to get into a dispute with her neighbors or the city, she said her focus remains on the pigs. Most all of them are mini pigs, but a few are larger breeds.
“They are as smart as a 4-year-old child,” she said. “Their emotional intelligence is equal to ours.”
She said pigs are one of the most misunderstood animals and noted that they have been domesticated by civilizations going back centuries.
“If you spend time with them it’s the most peaceful, satisfactory experience a person could ever have,” Se said.
She is also starting a program using pigs to help veterans with PTSD. She said it has a calming effect that helps the veterans. Se said that is one of the reasons people like having them as pets. She said they can be housebroken and trained to use a litterbox but added they do require a lot of attention.
“It’s like living with a toddler for 20 years,” she said.
About once a month she hosts an open house where people who preregister can come out and see her operation, get to know the pigs, and for those considering adoption, get their questions answered. Se said they don’t adopt the pigs to just anyone. She said they require an application and a screening process that includes a home visit before she will place a pig with a family.
Houston Mini Pig Rescue is about more than rescuing an adopting out pigs. Se uses them in outreach and school programs. The organization has a five-member board of directors and 15 dedicated volunteers.
“We always need more volunteers,” she said.
According to the mission statement on the organization’s website (www.houstonminipigrescue.org/), the agency “strives to educate the public about pigs and their needs. We work towards changing laws and city ordinances so that no person has to (be) rid of their beloved pet pig.
“We advocate for pigs of all sizes welfare and enhance the human-pig bond. We focus on rescuing and rehabilitating pigs; we show abandoned neglected and abused pigs what love really is. We believe that every rescue animal deserves a chance at finding their forever home and will endlessly search for the perfect homes for the pigs in our care. We urge everyone to stand with us to make a difference in the lives of so many innocent pigs.”
Se said her organization is one of only five pig rescues in Texas, and as a result, she covers a lot of territory and reaches into other states. Se said she has people come from all over the country to adopt pigs.
“I truly believe they’re angels on earth … they’re here to teach us something. We just need to listen,” she said.