Fate of over 100 abandoned pet pigs in Santa Ysabel still unclear

The fate of more than 100 pigs left at the edge of Mesa Grande Road in Santa Ysabel last week remains unresolved today, even as locals struggle to keep some of them healthy and fed.

The pigs, which a county spokesperson said were branded pet pigs and could sell for between $800 and $3,000 each, were left on the side of the busy road. Several were killed by passing motorists, while others were picked up by local residents.

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

“Mummy pig, whom we named Wendi, is doing well, eating, drinking and breastfeeding her babies,” he said. “She seems to trust my wife and me more every day. We always want to respect her space and give her the opportunity to be there for her piglets.”

These piglets, named Mesa and Grande, are named after the Mesa Grande band of Mission Indians, on whose lands they were found. They have a vet checkup scheduled for Thursday. A tribal representative did not respond to questions from the City News Service, but Valverde said the Mesa Grande Band and local organizations made multiple efforts to shelter and feed the rest of the pigs.

Small animal sanctuary

Piglet shown with its mother on October 5, 2022.

“The last time we spoke with Mesa Grande tribal officials, they said they would include us in their planning effort with the agency they work with. We don’t know which agency that is” , he said, while noting that there was not one specific, focused effort he was aware of to help them.

According to information from NBC7, the San Diego County Department of Animal Services said it does not have jurisdiction over sovereign tribal lands. The county spokesperson said the county has offered to help encircle the pigs but has not heard from tribal leaders.


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Jennifer R. Strohm