March 19, 2014 -- Check out man’s new best friend -- the micro pig.
The co-owners of My Pet Piggy, based in Hopkinton, R.I., have received a livestock license to breed micro-pigs, which have risen in popularity as domestic animals, much like a cat or dog.
“Selling the pigs -- it started as a hobby," My Pet Piggy co-owner Justin McHugh told ABC News. "We started small and people enjoyed these pigs so much they told their friends and now it’s become huge."
In what may be a sign of the times, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Division of Agriculture, which regulate domestic animals as well as livestock, recently gave My Pet Piggy a livestock license, the first issued to a company in Rhode Island that breeds micro-pigs intended solely as pets, according to Scott Marshall, Rhode Island's state veterinarian. And the state may go further.
“We will recommend to have to amend current laws to address non-conventional pets in the state," Marshall said. “This is an emerging trend, and our laws have not caught up with the pet trade.”
The co-owners of My Pet Piggy began selling the micro pigs for around $600, at first, but demand has pushed the price to $1,000 or $1,500. Other websites sell the pigs for as much as $5,000.
“When I was first interested in going into the business, I started interacted with the animals and I had a quickly found out I had a passion for it,” My Pet Piggy co-owner Victor Kinoian said. "I started training animals and saw how intelligent they were."
However, veterinarians suggest doing your research before taking a micro-pig into your home.
“They may have the potential to make good pets,” said Dr. Christina Lorenson, president of Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association. "Some of them get to be good size, but when they become a large weight, it could become an issue."
Dezmarie Doyle, of Ashaway, R.I., who bought her micro-pigs from My Pet Piggy, raved about them.
“Our pet pigs, Cleveland and Nutella, have bonded with each other and our cat, Ash,” pet owner Dezmarie Doyle told ABC News. “We love our pigs!”