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Litter-box trainable and great for people with allergies, this petite pal seems ideal – but not everyone is sold

By Michelle Tauber
Updated November 27, 2009 11:01 AM
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Jane Croft couldn’t stand it anymore. Raising pigs for slaughter, “I would give them each a pint of beer and play them classical music and then drop them off [at the slaughter house],” she recalls. “But when I picked them up I could still tell who was who. It was so heartbreaking for me. I just thought, ‘If only there was another way. ’ “

And so two years ago, the U.K. breeder started breeding “micro-pigs,” pint-sized porkers that can weigh as little as 15 lbs. and make “really loving” pets, says Croft, who runs the Little Pig Farm in Cambridgeshire, England. “Once they get to know you it’s almost like having a little child. There’s a really famous Winston Churchill comment: Cats look down on you, dogs look up to you, but a pig looks at you like an equal.”

Clean, litter-box trainable and with no dander to cause allergies, “they’re as unique as humans are in their personalities,” says Oregon breeder Patricia Morrisroe, who sold a mini pig to Paris Hilton this fall. Morrisroe, who sells the pigs for up to $4,500 each (royaldandie.com), says she has noticed an increased interest in the little animals–her smallest sellers typically max out around 30 lbs.–over the past few years. “Once you get one, you’ll wonder why you didn’t have one sooner,” she says. “You just get such a kick out of ‘em that it’s just a really upbeat animal to have.”

Still, not everyone is sold on the petite piggies: Some owners have complained that the pigs grow larger than their designated size. Jodi Ragno bought a 2-lb. micro piglet named Hamlet (not from Croft or Morrisroe) that grew to more than 130 lbs. in four years. She says keeping it on a strict diet was difficult: “He was smart enough to throw tantrums when he wanted food,” says Ragno.

But the breeders say that if kept on a proper diet, the pigs will remain adorably mini. Whether their owners choose to continue eating pork products is another matter, though. Says Croft: “I still eat the odd pancetta muffin–but never in front of a pig!”