Friday, November 30, 2007

Pet Sitter On Cruelty Charge For Overfeeding

The pet sitter at the center of a media storm for allegedly overfeeding a pig is being charged with animal cruelty. The owner alleges that the pet sitter had allowed the pig to treble in weight while in her care.

The 5-year-old part feral, part potbellied pig, called Alaina, was a mere 50 pounds when her pet sitter, Mary Beesecker, began to care for her. Nine months later Alaina weighed a staggering 150 pounds, and required surgery to remove a collar which had become embedded in the fat rolls of her neck. Schmitz had left Alaina with the sitter, a co-worker, in rural Witoka while she was on medical leave to recover from ankle surgery. Alaina had apparently been foraging for cat food and chicken feed outdoors at the co-worker's farm.

Owner Michelle Schmitz has put Alaina on a strict diet that has already resulted in a 10% weight loss, combining a healthy diet with exercise. She said she and Alaina's veterinarian consider 50 pounds a more suitable weight for the mixed-breed pig.

Pot bellied pigs are a popular exotic pet in the United States and other Western nations. Owners often claim them to be as intelligent and trainable as dogs, being easy to train in return for food rewards. Many pig owners even walk their pets on a leash.

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