Just two weeks ago, Abigail was rescued in the nick of time. When found, she was literally lying in a pile of cans and trash behind a trailer, apparently abandoned by the former tenants. She had no shelter, clean water, or food. Abigail is 11 years old and has been living in squalor her whole life. Now, as a result, she is suffering a myriad of health and behavioral problems.
For starters, Abigail suffers from malnutrition and rapid weight loss. You can tell that she was extremely overweight at one time, most likely from eating a poor diet and getting no exercise. Her loose belly skin drags the ground when she walks, and she has no choice but to step on it. She also suffers from fat blindness, which occurs when folds on the face cover the eyes and block vision. She has to be led to her food and water.
All four of Abigail’s feet are extremely arthritic, and she grunts in pain when she walks. Her hooves are gnarly and crooked from years of neglect and lack of hoof trims. Sometimes she even walks on her wrists and elbows to avoid putting pressure on her front feet. Watching her move around is truly heartbreaking.
Abigail is extremely terrified of humans, which makes it even more difficult for caretakers to treat her. She must have been severely abused over the years to mistrust humans so much. Most pigs will eventually learn to trust again, but in her case, it’s hard to tell if she will overcome her past trauma. What pain and suffering she must have endured to react this way to the people who are trying to help her.
Abigail will need lots of medical attention and care to help her regain her health and mobility. She will need pain medication indefinitely and special housing to accommodate her disabilities. She will most likely face one or more surgeries in the coming months to help with her ailments. Right now, she needs constant attention and care. Years of neglect aren’t fixed overnight.
As Abigail’s rescuer and primary caretaker, I am sad to think about Abigail’s former life. What happened? Were her former owners misinformed about the size of potbellied pigs? Were the children scared of her? Did it cost too much to feed her properly? Was she too much work? What in the world could she have possibly done to deserve such neglect?
These questions haunt me, but I suppose their answers don’t matter anymore. That life is behind her now, and now she's suffering for it.
Now it’s time to focus on Abigail’s future. I can’t guarantee that she will ever completely recover from her past, but I can guarantee her a warm bed of straw, two healthy meals every day, proper medical care, and a loving hand. For however long she lives, Abigail will be treated with kindness, every day.
My promise to Abigail is to spread her story as a tool to educate people about pigs and what it takes to care for them properly. She will serve as ambassador for all neglected animals to remind us of our duty as humans to care for our fellow non-human inhabitants of the earth.
Tribute to Beautiful Lucy
Lucy earned her wings just after midnight this morning. Her little body said it’s time, and we helped her on her way. Rest in peace, beautiful girl!
Lucy came to us as a rescue about four years ago. She was dropped off at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in Pittsboro one evening, and since they were not yet set up for pigs, we welcomed her to our family here at Jenna and Friends where she quickly bonded with her herd.
Lucy was a pensive pig who often spent time alone wandering through the trees, exploring, digging, and just experiencing life to the fullest. She always had a child-like wonder in her eyes, and I truly believe she was thankful to be a part of the wondrous world around her.
She had a way of looking at you that sent a wave of peace through your soul like nothing else. Her gentle nudges and grunts reassured me that she was happy and grateful to be here with her family.
At night, Lucy snuggled right in with her buddies in the straw. I could tell when she was dreaming. What adventures she must have had in her sleep!
My life will forever be changed by Lucy’s kind soul. I truly feel honored to have been given the opportunity to care for her, feed her, caress her, and especially love her. I know her energy and spirit will live on with every gentle breeze, melodious bird song, puffy white cloud, falling leaf, raindrop, sunrise, and sunset.
Lucy radiated beauty, and beauty will radiate Lucy for the rest of time.
Lucy, you run free, sweet girl! And don’t forget to visit us from time to time.
2020 in Review: What a Year!
Wow! What a year! Not just for the animals but for the entire world. It’s truly been a transformative time for many, including me - Anna (that's me admiring Miss Gertie in the picture). I’m the proud founder of Jenna and Friends Animal Sanctuary, just west of Chapel Hill, NC. It’s my privilege to recount the year in detail and let you know where we are in our mission of rescue and peace.
First of all, let me preface this post with a little disclaimer. As you all know from our Facebook page, we just lost Lucy, our beautiful pig, only a few hours ago at the NC State Vet School. So, forgive me if I get a little emotional. I mean, gosh, this post was already destined to be emotional anyway, but now it’s a firm definite.
So, yes, we lost Lucy this year. We also lost two roosters (Frank and Rudy) and two guinea pigs (Linus and Willie). They are all living healthy and free at Rainbow Bridge now. Jenna gives me reports every now and then about what’s going on up there, and I must say, it sounds like a beautiful place - full of love and peace. This vision makes my heart full of joy.
OK, yes, we’ve lost a few animals this year, but what have we gained? Well let me get on my soapbox and turn up the volume, because we have a lot to share!
2020 brought us one new rooster (Phoenix), two guinea pigs (Walter and Nelson “aka Ninja”), and two new potbellied pigs (Maggie and Larry).
Maggie came to us from a sweet lady in Durham who had bought Maggie from a breeder but soon realized that her living situation was not suited for pigs. These breeder stories are way too common and are the main reason why so many potbellied pigs end up homeless and alone. But now, Maggie is safe and happy in her new home with her herd family. What a joy it is to watch her grow and discover the beautiful world around her. She will never know anything but joy, and that makes me smile from ear to ear.
Larry came to us from the Orange County Animal Shelter. He had been picked up a few times, and eventually the owner decided he wasn’t worth picking up anymore. Larry was truly abandoned by the very person who had committed to giving him a loving forever home. What a horrible thing to experience. And you better believe animals know when they’ve been abandoned. But now Larry is loved - no, he is cherished - and he is a happy boy in his loving herd.
What else can we share? A lot!
We received a $1500 grant from the Microsanctuary Resource Center to pay for vet bills that were incurred late last year when a bacterial infection passed through and took the lives of Stella and Petunia. Little Ellie spent almost a week at the NC State Vet School, but fortunately she fully recovered, and life is completely back to normal for her.
Our friend and supporter Jeannette Briggs ran a very successful Pampered Chef fundraiser that resulted in a nice donation of several hundred dollars for the animals. I even got a nice wok out of it. What a nice gesture of support from Jeannette and everyone who participated.
We expanded our fencing to almost double the size. Now the pigs have even more woods to explore and root around in. Pigs are natural explorers, so they are thrilled with the new area. A big fat oinkin’ thank you to Fortress Fencing in Carrboro for their handywork.
And speaking of Fortress Fencing, they also helped expand our fencing for the roosters and fixed the pig fencing from a downed tree. What a relief!
We received a whopping total of $7461.69 of donations from Facebook-generated fundraisers and general Facebook donations. Wow! Just wow! I knew we had some awesome supporters, but when I downloaded that donation report and scrolled through all the donations, I swear my heart just pounded with joy and gratitude.
We also received generous donations through Amazon Smile, our Amazon wish list, our website’s donation feature, cash gifts, and checks sent through the mail. Fortunately our supporters have lots of options for giving, and they ain’t scared to take action! Kindness is power!
Our animal sanctuary is now an official sponsor of the DMV’s Adopt-a-Highway program. If you see someone walking down our country road picking up trash, it’s probably me. I’m on a mission to keep our road free of garbage. It’s healthier for the environment, and it’s better on the eyes.
This 2020 reflection would certainly be incomplete without a big shoutout to Margaret’s Cantina in Chapel Hill. I can’t tell you how much food they’ve donated to the pigs over the months, even during the pandemic with limited service. Young, Laurie, Jessie, and the crew are amazing people, and if you want some awesome-sauce Tex Mex and award-winning margaritas, git yourself there - NOW!
We are fortunate to have lots of veterinary options around us. Dr. Shannon Swink from Hoof and Horn Mobile Vet Service is DA BOMB. What peace of mind she brings us, just knowing she’s just a call away. TriCounty Vet in Graham is also a lifesaver. They performed two neuters this year for us (Maggie and Larry) and other various services. What a kind crew.
Now, let me tell you about the N.C. State Veterinary Hospital. Just a sec while I do a little sniffing. This is where I get choked up, because I don’t even know where to start. The doctors and staff there are some of the nicest, most knowledgeable people on the planet Earth - actually, the entire universe. And I say that with 100% confidence. Amazing people. Seriously. Amazing.
Now let’s talk about pig therapy. What is pig therapy, you ask? Well, I’d like to think I coined the term, but I’m sure it’s been around a while.
Quite simply, pig therapy is the act of spending time with pigs to gain a sense of peace and hope in a world of stress and uncertainty. Pigs have a way of easing our minds and bringing calmness to our hearts. You can’t help but get a boost of love and happiness injected in your very soul when you’re with the pigs. I can’t explain it, but trust me. Pig therapy is a real thing, and you can find out for yourself. Just let me know when you're ready.
Now comes the time where I was planning to list all the volunteers and supporters who have brought joy to the animals this year. I’m happy to report that I don’t have enough room for even half of them.
My neighbors are always awesome and available when I need a helping hand (unfortunately I can’t load a pig into my car without some help!). Sara, John, Jess, Gordon, Susan, Traci, Brad, Jess, and Ian - I’m looking straight at you guys and sending you a whirling tornado full of love and gratitude.
OK, now for a really fun shoutout - UNC Vegans for Peace!! YOU GUYS ROCK!! Caroline, Sophia, Ruth - all of you! Thank you for visiting, giving belly rubs, spreading gravel, scooping poop, and getting some of that much-needed pig therapy. This whole group of students have given me so much hope for our future. Amazing people with big hearts and insights for a more peaceful world.
Other folks who deserve a mention (forgive me in advance if I have left out anyone) - Laura Jane (LJ), Lynne, Nancye, Sylvia, Sue, Mary Paul and Lewis, Jess and Ian, Lynwood and Brenda, Claire, Ashley, Kathy F., my dad, Megan, Naomi and Bill with grandchildren Cara and Calvin, Matt, Molly, Paula, my Ultimate Software buddies (Traci, Didier, Keith, and Kim), Rita, Jana, Deb, Theresa, Debbie, Young, Laurie, Jeremy, Miss, Chih-Wei, Kerry, Terry, Andrea the Chef, Jasmine, Silvia, Amy, Jody, Stephanie, Lorraine, Christine, Julie, Bridget, Mickie, Jennifer, Pat and Cheryl, Jude and Mel, Allison, Tonia, Katherine, Kristen, Mont, Dale, Polly, Emily, Kathy M., Helene, Andrea, Herb, Jeannette, Alice, Diana…
OK, OK, you get the point. A LOT of people. Too many to mention, actually. I love you all, and I could NOT do this alone. You should all be very proud of yourselves!
Now that your attention span is completely obliterated, let me close by saying THANK YOU to everyone. I adore our community of animal lovers, and I sincerely pray that good things will happen to each and every one of you and to our entire world in this coming year.
Peace and love to you all!
Anna O'Neal, founder and caretaker at Jenna and Friends Animal Sanctuary