A mum of four who craved a cute piglet for a pet has been has been blown away by the growth of the little hog into a 114kg giant therapy pet.
Marcela Iglesias, from Los Angeles picked Chuy, the fattest pig of the litter, believing he would grow to be a cute 20kg at most.
She had longed for a pet pig ever since childhood and fulfilled her dream close to five years ago, after spotting an advertisement on Facebook for a nearby farm sale.
But her hopes for a small companion turned out to be porkies, when at six months Chuy had more than quadrupled in size and showed no signs of slowing down.
It wasn’t until aged three that the podgy, potbellied-pig stopped growing – after hitting a colossal 114kg.
Marcela maintains she could never give Chuy up as he’s part of the family now and has even become her therapy pet to help her deal with anxiety.
She treats him like a dog and he can respond to his name, go for walks, perform tricks and warn her when strangers enter the house.
Marcela said: “When I saw the litter I started laughing, I saw them all running around like little podgy balls, I needed to get one.
“I knew this was my chance, so I picked the fattest and biggest of the litter, at the time he was smaller than a pug.
“I thought I was getting a mini-pig at around 20kg tops, after seeing his mum and dad I thought that he would be small too.
“But by six months he had quadrupled in size, he kept growing, I don’t know if it was because I overfed him at first.
“I was in denial that he would get that big, everyone thought at six months that he would stop growing, but he only stopped at three years old.
“Despite this fact that he kept getting bigger, I never thought of abandoning him or taking him to a shelter.
“He’s very special to me, I have unconditional love for him and he helps me with my anxiety.
“I treat him like a young child, I clean him, sing him songs and give him massages – no one takes care of him like me.”
Obsessed with pigs
Marcela, who spent the first two decades of her life in Argentina, became obsessed with pigs at a young age but finally took the plunge and adopted one in 2013.
She said: “I realised how easy it was owning a pig, he took care of himself, there was no fights or any problems at all, except he kept growing and growing.
“I had to keep buying more and more leashes because they didn’t fit his huge neck.
“I realised I couldn’t get rid of him, I loved him even though he was bigger than I expected.”
Marcela would regularly take Chuy for walks in the neighbourhood and allowed neighbours children to watch and pet him.
Animal control confiscates huge pic
But in 2014, animal control were called to confiscate her pet – due to regulations around the types of pets you can keep in the area.
Marcela said: “I even fought a city order to keep him as my pet, after a neighbour called animal control.
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“At that time, I was going to therapy for anxiety, I feared them taking him away from me, when they asked if I considered having him as a service pig.
“We got a permit for him to become my emotional support animal and now he has his paperwork, a vest and all the credentials.
“Knowing he was an emotional support animal they could not take him away from me because they are protected under federal laws in housing situations.”
Since then, Marcela has moved to a new area where city zoning codes allow these types of animals and she adopted two more pigs, leading to her becoming known locally as ‘The Pig Lady.’
“It’s certainly a commitment as pot-bellied pigs live for 15-20 years, it’s like a dog, that’s a long time,” she said.
“But my pigs are part of the family, I could never get rid of them.”