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A teacup pig? Is that really a thing? This TV network explores the question

Utah animal rescuer has 3 little pigs — and they’re actually pretty big

SHARE A teacup pig? Is that really a thing? This TV network explores the question

Miss Piggy stands on the lid of a food bin at Ritzy Rescue Ranch, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in Erda, Tooele County, on Friday, July 15, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

A nonprofit, free television streaming network created what it said is the world’s first reality TV show starring — wait for it — a couple named Dante and Beatrice that are actually pigs who are quite bonded to each other.

According to UnchainedTV, the series called “Pig Little Lies” breaks new ground by tattling on the lie of so-called “teacup” pigs.

The allure of cuddling a tiny pig and taking it in as a pet has been a problem for years, but now shelters and nonprofit rescue organizations are being overrun — and all because the network says scammers are selling baby piglets disguised as full-grown “teacup” pigs. 

The five-part series follows the story of Dante and Beatrice, unceremoniously dumped at a high kill shelter in Southern California. After being rescued by an animal-loving country singer, they end up in the care of a Los Angeles-based wildlife rehabber.

In a dramatic turn during the series, Beatrice is pregnant and gives birth to 13 piglets, which the network says drives home the point that when you have a pig you have to be ready for anything.

UnchainedTV is available to download for free via App stores on iPhone and Android devices. It can be watched on television via Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV devices, Roku devices, or via Samsung and LG Smart TVs. The network can also be watched online via UnchainedTV.com.


Miss Piggy stands with Chris Mortensen, executive director of Ritzy Rescue Ranch, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in Erda,Tooele County. as he works in the rain to clean up and feed other animals on Friday, July 15, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Local pig tails

Chris Mortensen has adopted three rescue pigs for his place in Erda, Tooele County, called Ritzy Rescue Ranch, where he is executive director.

The trio are Miss Piggy, Dave and Mannie.

Like the stars of the new series, the three were left homeless and wound up in the care of Chris and Kate Mortensen.

“As far as I know there is no such thing as a teacup (pig). But as far as my understanding goes, breeders take these runts, breed them with other runts to get more runts. They are trying to get them smaller and smaller, but that creates genetic health problems,” Chris Mortensen said.

He first became acquainted with a pig as a pet through a friend who owned Chester, a sweater-wearing, house-trained pig quite well-behaved.

“He was a super friendly pig.”

But like turning on the water tap, owners with a new pet typically underestimate what they are getting into, especially with a pig.

“They take a lot of training and are very smart. You’ve got to do a lot of mental stimulation with them or they start getting into trouble,” he said. “I just don’t think people look at pigs as the complex, emotional creature they are. And that’s a bummer because a lot of them end up in the slaughterhouse.”


Miss Piggy stands in a pasture at Ritzy Rescue Ranch, a nonproft animal sanctuary, in Erda, Tooele County, on Friday, July 15, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Mortensens came by Miss Piggy after she was found wandering a field in California, either an escapee from a nearby farm or abandoned.

After authorities made reasonable efforts to find her previous owner, arrangements were being made to ship the animal to a slaughterhouse, but a rescue organization stepped in.

Miss Piggy was taken to Utah via a rescue relay that routed her from California, through Las Vegas, on to Mesquite and she eventually wound up in Salt Lake City. The Mortensens took her in.

Mortensen said Miss Piggy had a fungal infection on her skin that required daily attention such as medicated treatments, sunscreen and oatmeal shampoo.

“Otherwise they just sit there and scratch,” he said. “There is so much that goes into taking care of these animals, and I think when people see actors or a public figure walk around with a little pig, they want one. Then they are overwhelmed.”

Mortensen said he does not necessarily blame the media or celebrities for the problem, but rather a culture in which people have become a throwaway society, tossing whatever is inconvenient, too much work or burdensome — and that includes animals.

As an animal lover, that saddens him.

“I don’t expect people to have the same perspective on things as I do. I just don’t realize how people can spend time with these animals and not realize their sentience or their awareness, and consciousness — and then abandon them.”