San Juan, Puerto Rico
What started as an innocent activity of buying Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs as pets in the Cantera community of San Juan has turned into a nightmare five years later. They didn’t know that this breed can weigh over 250 pounds when grown.
The pigs have reproduced at a shocking rate and have now become a menace. Last year, they declared the problem a health emergency so that the federal officers could begin getting rid of the swines.
Community leaders have tried many methods to reduce numbers, including building pens to enclose the pigs. They have also tried sensitising residents not to feed the hogs because they will return to get more food. These measures have not helped. The pigs don’t have natural predators on the island, and so they continue to thrive. Consuming the swines is out of the question because they carry diseases, including varieties of herpes.
The pigs, thought to be in their thousands, eat almost everything and forage in residents’ gardens, resulting in destruction of crops. In one incident, the hogs invaded a resident’s garden and destroyed peas, coriander, pumpkin and tomatoes he had planted. Another resident was chased and savagely attacked, resulting in a knee injury that requires surgery. Apart from these cases, they rummage through garbage and leave urine and other waste matter everywhere they pass, exposing residents to diseases.
The community leaders plan to try an alternative method of trapping the swines and putting them down humanely. They will do this at a facility owned by the Department of Agriculture. However, the project has faced opposition from animal rights groups such as the Women United for Animal Welfare. The animal rights groups oppose the killings and instead suggest they move the animals to a safe place.