A breed apart

Published 10:25 pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

Susan Wendt pets Eggs, a 1-year-old potbellied pig that she is fostering while Eggs is up for adoption. Eggs is one of many livestock animals Wendt has taken care of on her farm in order to help Suffolk Animal Control.

Suffolk woman fosters quite a collection

Eggs is going to make a great pet. She loves to play, has a big personality and adores attention.

There’s just one thing — she’s a 65-pound potbellied pig.

When Suffolk Animal Control picked up Eggs in October, the workers weren’t sure where she would stay.

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They needed a place for her to stay for a few months while they got her ready for adoption, but the shelter doesn’t have room for a pig.

Luckily, Animal Control has Susan Wendt on call.

For the past four years, Wendt has helped Animal Control take care of animals it picks up that aren’t dogs or cats.

“We have gotten goats, pigs, chickens, geese — you name it,” Wendt said. “It’s kind of nice to help out, to let them know they can rely on people in the community.”

Wendt is the one who named the pig Eggs — to go with another pig she adopted named Bacon.

She lives with her husband, James, and their children, Rebecca, 5, and Jimmy, 7, on a farm in southern Suffolk with a menagerie of their own — eight horses, three dogs, 13 cats and a multitude of pigs, roosters and guinea hens.

Wendt said she got connected with Animal Control because of her passion for saving horses.

A few years ago, she said, she was fostering rescue horses with the United States Equine Rescue League and kept the horses in an enclosed area at the front of her property.

“I would get a lot of people calling Animal Control and telling them I had all these skinny horses in my yard,” Wendt said. “When they came down, I would show them the paperwork that I was fostering them and bringing them back to health.”

She said the Animal Control officers were delighted to hear she fostered horses and asked to keep her number on file.

Soon after, she started getting calls to take in horses. In fact, she said, she still has one of the first horses she fostered and adopted from Animal Control.

“Then, the calls started getting crazier,” Wendt said.

Animal Control has asked her to watch a turkey, a goat, ducks and even a Canada goose.

Wendt said she usually takes in six to eight animals a year from the shelter. Some of the animals find homes, some Wendt adopts, and others move on.

The goose flew away with a group of other Canada geese.

The turkey stayed with her family for 18 months before she died.

“We were surprised she lived so long,” Wendt said.

Buster, a boar hog found wandering the streets of Holland, is now a breeder hog for the Wendt’s farm.

“He’s very friendly,” she said. “He’s like a big dog.”

But taking care of all of the animals isn’t always fun. Wendt spends an hour or two each morning feeding and readying the animals for the day. She does most of the farm work by herself while her husband works.

But the even bigger effect is on Wendt’s finances.

“I have to work part time to pay my feed bill,” she said.

Each month, Wendt has 50 bags, filled with 50 pounds of feed, delivered to her home.

Animal Control helps feed the bigger animals, like horses, but Wendt said she wouldn’t accept help for animals like Eggs.

She even helps Animal Control with feed if they need it and donates excess food and supplies to Diamonds in the Rough Equine Rescue in Windsor.

Wendt said even when it’s difficult, she loves fostering because she adores animals.

“I’ve always been an animal person,” she said.

While Eggs has been with Wendt since Thanksgiving, the pig came up for adoption this week and might already have found a new home.

“But I already told the girls at Animal Control, if it doesn’t work out, she’s always welcome here.”