Broward News

Davie Store Selling Pigs, Foxes, and Goats as Pets

If you walk into Allpets Emporium in Davie to purchase a leash or bag of dog food, you'll see the store is also selling animals you'd expect to encounter on a farm, or perhaps out in the wild.  Recently, the selection included a pair of petite baby pigs, chickens in a coop, two fluffy young foxes, and an itty bitty goat in a pen with a bell around its neck. 

"Most people love them. Typically, [the animals]  don’t stay around long," said Allpets Emporium marketing director Nicholas Babb.  

Farm animals and foxes are a relatively recent addition to Allpets. Babb declined to release specific sales data for business reasons, but said, "Most of the animals go fast." He noted, "It’s Davie. People live on big properties."  

Mike Bober, president of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a trade association that works on legislative and regulatory issues, said he's not seen any data indicative of a trend among retailers adding farm animals.  Nontraditional animals marketed as pets are generally regarded as a fringe segment of the industry. "They’re not what we would consider to be traditional companion animals," he said. "They’re definitely outliers relative to the broader pet industry." 

Yet novel pets tend to be buzzworthy, especially when they're adopted by famous folks. Miley Cyrus posed nude last year for Paper magazine accompanied by pet pig Bubba Sue. In early May, Kylie Jenner posted Snapchat videos featuring a little pig in the grass:
As for farm animals at Allpets Emporium, the price for a Nigerian dwarf goat is $399.99, Babb said.  The red fox and silver fox are each $599.99. The micro pigs cost $649.99.

Babb thinks if not overfed, the pigs will likely weigh between 50 and 60 pounds as adults.. Wikipedia, which lists micro pigs as a another name for miniature pigs or teacup pigs, states they may weigh 75 to 150 pounds. The descriptors of miniature and micro are obviously relative. Farm pigs may weigh more than 700 pounds.

"People love interesting animals," Babb said.

But some critics warn against buying farm animals as pets. Modern Farmer magazine has reported that the sale of pet pigs is a "marketing scam" that has been around for two decades, and that the trend waxes and wanes.  

Sharron Carmichael, animal cruelty investigator for the Humane Society of Broward in Dania Beach, said she recently encountered a man walking a baby goat on a leash. Baby animals look exceptionally sweet and adorable, Carmichael says, but she advises against such impulse purchases. "People instantly think they've got to have one," she said.  "What's going  to happen when it does grow up and it's no longer cute?"

Carmichael suggests before acquiring an unfamiliar breed, a potential buyer should do lots of  research, including studying up on the animal's behavior and personality as an adult, its living and veterinary requirements, and whether it's prohibited by local zoning restrictions or homeowner rules. 

"We hope people would think before they actually make that purchase," Carmichael said.

Susie Coston, national shelter director at Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit farm animal rescue and protection organization based in Watkins Glen, New York, said she thinks it is irresponsible for a pet store to sell baby farm animals to the general public because their needs and requirements are very specific. 

Pigs and goats are meant to live outdoors in herd environments. They may be lonely and unhappy without others like them and likely are destructive in a residential environment. "They rip drywall, tear up carpet," she said. 

"[Pigs] bite hard. They can crush walnuts in their mouths," Coston said. "They are exceedingly strong. They are all muscle." Goats may hurt people unintentionally, she said, because they head-butt roughly, even as a form of play.  

With occasional exceptions, she said, many farm animals purchased as babies by well-intentioned pet owners  are eventually unwanted. Pig sanctuaries around the nation, she said, are brimming with former pets. Farm Sanctuary doesn't take in former pet pigs, but it does adopt out rescued farm animals to those with suitable facilities. 

Unloading a nontraditional pet in a manner that's responsible and humane is often a tough task, pointed out Carmichael of the Humane Society of Broward.

Phone calls to several local animal shelters and animal rescue organizations in Broward and Palm Beach counties revealed they typically do not accept unwanted pet pigs, pet goats, or pet foxes, although some exceptions may apply. 

Babb, the marketing manager of Allpets Emporium, said the store does not accept returns of live animals. He notes some staff members, however, might be inclined to personally help out with an unwanted pet. He said that's been done previously with birds, which some buyers no longer want because of the mess and noise. 

The fact that foxes are included in the retail array draws strong opinion from a Humane Society of the United States representative.

"The sale of fox kits is of utmost concern to us, very distinct from the sale of farm animals as pets. It is neither a trend nor something we can condone in any context," said Cory Smith, director of companion animal public policy.

"Foxes do not belong in households, period, " she said. "Wild animals belong in the wild. There's no appropriate circumstance for having a fox as a pet. We have enough homeless pets out there; we don’t need to be creating new ones."   

In Florida, a special permit is required to possess a fox. The Class III wildlife permit is issued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Babb said other than requiring that permit for the foxes, his store has no official vetting process for people purchasing pets.  "We try and advocate responsible pet ownership at all times."
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Patti Roth