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Big Poppa and the Vermont Pigs

In mid-January, WFAS learned about 5 pigs in Vermont destined to be killed if a new home wasn’t found by noon on January 24th.  Their caregiver had unexpectedly died and the pigs had been moved to a farm in Brattleboro, VT, where a farmer offered to feed them for only a few weeks before sending them off to slaughter.  Since we currently don’t have space to take in more pigs, our staff sprang into action to find a suitable place for them as we do in many cases. After extensive networking with staff at other sanctuaries, such as Carol Eiswald at Tusk and Bristle, Janice Gillett at Hearts on Noses in Canada, and Lana Hollenback at Forgotten Angels Rescue and Education Center, a temporary home came forward before the deadline.  In addition, Hearts on Noses Sanctuary developed a Facebook page dedicated to the pig rescue and was able to raise over $700 for the transport and care of the pigs!

Four of the pigs, Mahme, Eleanor, Oreo, and Boris, were successfully transported to their new home.  Sadly, the person hired to move the pigs was unable to get the largest one, a 900-pounder named Big Poppa, onto the trailer.   A second attempt proved unsuccessful as well, and a vet was called who had declared B.P. a pig beyond help who should be “euthanized”.  With little opportunity for exercise in a small, dark pen, a terrible diet that has led to obesity and hooves that were severely overgrown, poor Big Poppa was suffering from terrible arthritis.

With only a day left before the farmer planned to end his life, our staff knew we only had one more chance to save Big Poppa. Our sanctuary manager, Sheila Hyslop and one of our most fabulous volunteers, Mike Stura, packed up and headed to VT with Gia Martin and her son, the new adoptive “pig parents.”  Within an hour, between the sliced-apple bribes, gentle guidance, and encouragement, Big Poppa was coaxed onto the trailer.  Resting on plenty of bedding for the drive, Big Poppa made the trip to his new home successfully and walked without any assistance to his siblings for a wonderful family reunion.

Big Poppa slowly but steadily followed the path to freedom. (Photo: Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)

We are so grateful to all the sanctuaries, volunteers, donors, and individuals who collaborated to  save the lives of this wonderful family.  The pigs are all settling in to their new home, enjoying plenty of affection and proper care.  Oreo is a master nest builder.  Eleanor loves to give kisses.  Mahme and Boris relish their apple treats.  And Big Poppa is up and about and steadier on his feet now with trimmed hooves and the help of pain meds.  All five prefer a very clean home and do their business only outside.  And Gia, their new mommy, is so grateful for that!