When Maybelle the pot-bellied pig arrived at the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Dedham branch at the beginning of the summer, she was so overweight she was immobile and unable to see.
Now, four months later, she’s about 20 pounds lighter and much happier, according to a spokesman for the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
But, Maybelle’s condition is no laughing matter.
Maybelle’s previous owner, a woman from Billerica, was charged with animal cruelty for overfeeding her pet, Animal Rescue League spokesman Mike DeFina said.
The woman allegedly kept Maybelle inside for more than a year and fed her dog food, which is high in fat and calories, DeFina said.
“When we first got her, she weighed 196 pounds, she couldn’t stand up for more than 30 seconds at a time, she couldn’t move around, she wasn’t really mobile, and she was in pretty rough shape,” he said.
In addition to Maybelle’s troubling physical condition, including a roll of fat covering her eyes and obstructing her vision, DeFina said the pig was also grumpy and unhappy when she arrived at the barn in Dedham.
“Pigs are really intelligent animals, and she was certainly depressed when she came to us,” he said. “She literally couldn’t move.”
However, after months of extreme dieting, Maybelle is losing weight and cheering up.
Animal Rescue League veterinarians put Maybelle on a strict diet, feeding her six small meals of pig feed a day and treating her with snacks of celery and cucumbers.
DeFina said Maybelle isn’t turning her nose up at the veggies. In fact, he said she’s recently taken to strutting around her pen when people come to see her.
“In the last few weeks, she’s been getting up and walking around the barn,” he said. “She wanted us to see how far she’s come.”
Maybelle has lost about 6 inches from her waist since she was first measured in July. She most recently measured in at 4 feet round, still an unhealthy size, but DeFina said the diet is working and the Animal Rescue League is proud of her progress.
“I think one of the most remarkable things is how her demeanor has changed,” he said.
While Maybelle is up and walking now, her caretakers are still unable to get her on a scale to measure her weight.
Instead, they’ve been measuring her with a fabric tape measure and estimate she weighs about 170 pounds.
The average weight for a pot-bellied pig is around 130 pounds, DeFina said, so Maybelle still has a ways to go, but she’s already up for adoption.
DeFina said Maybelle’s ideal home would have a farm with a proper enclosure for her so she can spend her days outside instead of locked in a house.
Maybelle’s new owner would also have to be committed to helping Maybelle shed the remaining weight, which veterinarians estimated could take nine months to a year to do, DeFina said.
But if you’re looking for a friend to help you stay serious about your diet, Maybelle could be the perfect companion for you.Alyssa Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.