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Pot-Bellied Pig Population Poses Problem

Clatskanie woman devotes herself to rescuing cast-aside pets

Clatskanie - By day Diane Mausen works as a custodian, sweeping and cleaning the Clatskanie Elementary School.

But after work Mausen, nicknamed "Mouse", returns home to a collection of castoffs: eight potbellied pigs, seven dogs, six cats and a passel of newborn kittens, a couple of which had to be fed by hand.

"At times, I've brought animals to school with me - like the kittens who had to be bottle-fed, for example," Mausen said. "The teachers are really good about inviting the animals to visit their classrooms. I don't think a lot of kids get to handle animals that small, so it was educational for them to see the kittens be bottle-fed."

Mausen, who came by her menagerie by rescuing abused or castoff pets, helps children learn to care for and handle animals.

"If they aren't taught, kids don't understand how fragile kittens and puppies are," she said.

Although some of her adopted waifs go to school with her, it's her rural home on 30 acres that serves as a refuge for cats, dogs, and a thundering herd of Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, who found themselves in hog heaven under Mausen's care.

"I've kind of become a rescue service for those little pigs," said Mausen, who started with two pigs of her own and picked up the others when people who bought them as pets realized they grew bigger than 5 pounds. Mausen's pigs, which sleep in an old barn on her property, range in size from about 45 to 100 pounds.

Although her pig population has grown, Mausen isn't breeding the pot-bellied porkers. "They're either spayed or neutered - I'm not in the business of reproducing them. Clearly if people are giving them away to me, there's no big market for them."

Mausen, who shares her home with a Clatskanie teacher, had been adopting animals that have no homes for 15 years. She said she receives donations of food from people who know about her rescue work.

"It's not an exorbitant amount I spend on feeding them. They root in the ground, and friends give me produce items. At Halloween, I bring them home truckloads of pumpkins." she said.

"I get lots of calls from people who have apple trees or plum trees - any excess fruit they can't use. I come and pick everything I can - it makes the pigs so happy."

Mausen recently spent, $2,000 fencing the yard and buying crates and kennels to keep her seven canines safe and well-housed. Most of her dogs are small breeds, and she tries to keep the population to a minimum because of the costs of food, licensing, medical expenses and fencing.

Some of the dogs ended up with Mausen because they couldn't be sold or people were moving into town.

"Right now I have a couple of pugs who were born with flaws, and people wouldn't have purchased them," Mausen said. "My little male only has one eye."

But to Mausen, the less desirable the animals are to others, the more love she gives them.

"Once they get to my house, they're there to stay," she said. "I figure that's where they're going to be until they go beyond."

By Christy Caballero
For The Daily News

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