Chances are, if you're reading a blog post from an animal sanctuary, you just love a good rags-to-riches story. Well, I've got one for you, so settle in and let me tell you all about what went down this past weekend.
First, a little background...
A few weeks ago, I got an email about two sibling female pigs living in a bad situation in Jackson Springs, NC, about an hour and a half away from the sanctuary. I wasn't shocked. I mean, seriously, I've heard it all. But this struck me a little differently. These two pigs (one named "Pork" and the other one named "Chop") were enclosed in a dark pen in the back of a shed, living in urine-soaked mud. They had no access to sunlight, and their health was deteriorating at only three years of age. If we wanted them to survive, we had to do something.
The more I thought about these two pigs, the more my heart went out to them. And when I saw their photo, I knew the situation was critical.
As you can see, both of these pigs are overweight, but the one on the right is morbidly obsese. When pigs get this fat, they lose their mobility and even their eyesight. Yes, that's right. They lose their sight because the fat folds on their faces grow so large that they cover the eyes. Overfeeding pigs with unhealthy food and confining them to a small enclosure that doesn't allow for exercise is just heartbreaking. Imagine you get so big that you can't move around anymore, and then you can't even see the world around you. You just sit there day after day in misery and pain.
I decided I had to rescue these two beauties and get them to a safe home immediately. And I guess the stars just aligned when I made that decision because my fundraiser for a new quarantine space had just ended with 100% success, and my church buddy Randy Mapes was already busy getting the quarantine space all ready with new fencing and a piggie house. Check it out!
Early Saturday morning, Randy and I rented a U-haul trailer and filled it with two large crates, a ramp, and bags of treats. With coffee in hand and nervous butterflies in our guts, we started our journey to Jackson Springs, not knowing exactly what to expect when we reached our destination. We passed the time by making small talk and pointing out all the beautiful scenery we passed along the way.
When we finally arrived, we were greeted by the current owners and taken to the shed behind the house. And once we were directed to the pig pen, the reality of the situation hit us. This was the first picture I snapped.
The enclosure was dark and filthy, and it smelled horrible. Both pigs were very lethargic and scared. They had no fresh water to drink. And to make matters worse, I could already see the health problems caused by the excess weight. The larger pig was suffering from that awful fat blindness I mentioned earlier, and her breathing was raspy and labored. The smaller pig had a leg injury, and both pigs were suffering with skin problems, most likely from lying in their own urine. Pig skin is not supposed to be red and puffy like that. Honestly, they just looked completely hopeless.
The next step was to round up the girls and get them into crates so we could load them into the trailer. If you've ever witnesses a pig rescue, this part is NOT fun. The pigs are terrified. They have no idea who you are and what you're trying to do. They squeal and groan. It's incredibly traumatic for everyone involved. We were finally able to round them up, and thanks to Randy's ingenious idea to add more support to the crates, we were able to safely drag them through the sand over to the trailer intact, push them up a shaky ramp, and load them in.
Here's Randy taking a breather after getting the girls loaded...
As expected, the drive home was stressful. The weather was a little hotter than we anticipated, so we had to stop several times to air out the trailer and give the girls water to drink. They were absolutely terrified.
When we finally got home, we used a harness to walk each pig to their new pen. With the leg injury and the weight issues, this was not an easy task. Both of them were exhausted and collapsed on the ground to rest several times on the way, but we finally guided each girl into the pen.
We sighed with relief, knowing we had gotten these pigs home to safety. They were surrounded by the beautiful woods with their own house full of fresh straw and a heat lamp. They could finally feel a gentle breeze and the warmth of the sunshine. And the ground was now the forest floor, not urine-soaked mud.
So what's next? Well, as with all new rescues, they will need to be vetted to see just what we're dealing with healthwise. I'll also need to put them on a plan to lose weight. And of course, I'll have to work on gaining their trust. They've already starting meeting the other pigs through the fence, and I will monitor things to see if and when they might be able to join the herd in the next several weeks. Their weight is my main concern at this point, so I'm just taking it one day at a time.
See what I mean about the fat folds covering the eyes? This is just heartbreaking!
Oh, their new names? Randie Lou and Penny Lane! Randie Lou (the larger pig) is named after the man who made this whole rescue possible - Randy Mapes! And Penny Lane is named after his lovely wife Penny. I can't think of two more compassionate people to name them after.
I also have to thank all of you wonderful supporters. So many of you have already reached out to check on the girls, and I appreciate your concern more than you know. My promise to you is that I will do everything in my power to give these girls the best life possible so that they'll forget the hell they just came from. Thank you for your prayers! And stay tuned to our social media channels for updates and links to fundraisers!