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Fate of more than 100 pet pigs abandoned in Santa Ysabel still unclear

Little Bitty Animal Sanctuary
Piglet seen here in this photo taken on Oct. 5, 2022

The fate of more than 100 pigs left by the side of Mesa Grande Road in Santa Ysabel last week remained up in the air today, even as locals work to keep some of them healthy and fed.

The pigs, which a county spokesman said were designer pet pigs and could be sold from anywhere between $800 and $3,000 each, were abandoned by the side of the busy road. Several were killed by passing motorists, while some others have been taken in by local residents.

Ryan Valverde, owner and cofounder of the Little Bitty Animal Sanctuary in Ranchita, told City News Service the sow and two piglets he and his wife took in were healthy and doing well.


"Momma piggy, that we named Wendi, is doing well, she is eating, drinking and nursing her babies," he said. "She appears to be more trusting of my wife and I every day. We still want to respect her space, and give her the opportunity to be there for her piglets."

Those piglets, named Mesa and Grande, are named after the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians, on whose land they were found. They have a veterinarian checkup scheduled Thursday. A tribal representative did not respond to questions from City News Service, but Valverde said there were multiple efforts by the Mesa Grande Band and local organizations to get the remainder of the pigs sheltered and fed.

Little Bitty Animal Sanctuary
Piglet shown with its mother on Oct. 5, 2022.

"Last we spoke with Mesa Grande tribal officials, they said they would include us in their planning effort with the agency that they are working with. We are not sure what agency that is," he said, while noting there was not one specific, concentrated effort he was aware of to help them.

According to reporting by NBC7, the San Diego County Department of Animal Services said they do not have jurisdiction on sovereign tribal land. The county spokesman said the county has offered to help corral the pigs but has not heard back from tribal leaders.

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