Frequenters of South County’s many walk/jog-athons and marathons may be familiar with Justin McHugh and the micro pigs he brings to these events. About the size of a teacup dog, these micro pigs are bred, trained and sold by McHugh and his partner Victor Kinoian, both of whom enjoy the eruption of smiles that occurs when he brings his itty-bitty cuties somewhere public to romp and play.
Similar to cats, micro pigs are “very loyal, respectful of stuff and use the litter box,” says McHugh. “I currently have two-month-old babies and they’re amazing. They’re not messy and get along great with my yorkies.”
And similar to dogs, an owner must earn the pig’s respect. After all, pigs are incredibly intelligent creatures, but “once they know who you are, they’re awesome,” says McHugh. Moreover, the pigs are “not aggressive, only sometimes skittish,” and their temperaments improve as the pig warms up to its owner.
But the question is, what attracted McHugh to micro pigs? Why head out to the uncharted area of the pet spectrum to revolutionize the pig as a household animal? “It sort of just happened,” says McHugh. “A friend of mine bought one from a breeder in Florida. She said, ‘Look man, I got this miniature pig, let’s take it somewhere with us.’ Sure enough, we go out to Garden City, to the Chipotle nearby, and people went crazy. So then we started taking it all over the place. Inner city, country, upscale, urban. Anywhere we went, people loved it. They thought it was adorable and had a great personality.” One thing led to another, which led to another, and McHugh found himself in the business of breeding his own micro pigs. “We’ve been around for about a year now, and everywhere we take the pigs, we get great feedback.”
In addition to the aforementioned -thons, McHugh spends much of his time bringing the pigs to charity and community events. For example, he often brings them to nursing homes, so as to provide entertainment for the elderly and socialization for the pigs. “It’s about putting a smile on someone’s face,” says McHugh. “I see them smile and it gives me a smile, simple as that.”
As for the cost of purchasing such a micro pig, the final price depends on a few different factors, such as gender, initial size, coloration and the amount of training put into the pig. “The temperament goes into it as well,” says McHugh, who uses a trained breeder eye to create a quote based on the pig’s inherent qualities. Like any industry, it’s about what’s in demand and how much is out there to fulfill that demand. But when all is said and done, McHugh’s average price range is “between $700 and $1,000.”
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