Man’s Home Becomes Unofficial Pig Sanctuary
Andy Gregory is the president of Des Champs, Gregory & Hayes insurance agency, and in his spare time, he takes photos of bull-riding competitions. But there is so much more to Andy Gregory.
Somewhere in southwest Florida lies Andy’s home where he lives with his wife, Debbie. But Andy and Debbie’s family is a lot more expanded than you could possibly have imagined, though not with children (in the conventional use of the word).
They share their home with 27 pigs, 15 goats, six dogs, four cats, three horses, a sheep and a rabbit. All of these animals (except for six) are rescue animals, which means that they had previously been living in unsustainable conditions.
Andy is not an animal welfare professional and his home is not an official sanctuary. But the animals now have a stable home and they are what he looks forward to coming home to at the end of the working day.
Of course, Andy didn’t go into this with no experience. He got his first pig, Hoover, when he was a teenager. His interest in keeping pigs started again about 11 years ago when Andy and Debbie finally moved into a property big enough to do just what he’s doing.
Over time, more and more pigs began calling the Gregory home their own. Some of these pigs are former pets, some were wild who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and needed a home to avoid facing alternative treatment.
The biggest animals live outside in large pens, although a couple of housebroken pigs are occasionally invited into the house for a visit.
Considering that many of the animals received little attention before coming to live with the Gregorys, Andy loves their company and watching how their behaviour changes and adjusts.
And it probably doesn’t cost as much to look after all of the animals as you might think. Including food and vet bills, the Gregorys pay out just under $20,000 (£12,800) a year.
It might seem a steep figure, but you have to bear in mind that there are almost 60 animals altogether. Some of these are blind, some have skin conditions, and one of the goats even suffers from a neurological condition.
Understandably, Debbie’s attitude towards welcoming another animal into the fold switches between “Oh no, not another one” to “Yay, look what we’ve got!”, but ultimately she just supports her husband’s pet project passion.
“I always wanted a home with room to do just this,” Andy explained. “Having a wife that loves me and stands by me makes this all the better.”
Damen Hurd is a wildlife rehabilitator with Florida’s Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center and has personally sent a few pigs Andy’s way. Rehoming options can be scarce in the pig community, so he’s even spread Andy’s name around there.
Hurd’s take on it is that many of Andy’s pigs would have been killed if they hadn’t have been taken in.
“Andy is an amazing guy that doesn’t have to do this,” he said. “He chooses to do good and save these pigs’ lives with his money and time and I am grateful for that.”