Just a few days before July 4, Farm Sanctuary’s Emergency Rescue Team arrived at a factory pig farm where we were alerted to the flagrant abuse of a pregnant breeding sow. As she was moved from a cramped gestation crate to an equally cramped farrowing crate to give birth, a worker brutally kicked and beat her and then ran an electrified cattle prod over the length of her body as she screamed in pain. The assault ended only when the sow collapsed, at which point she was dragged into the crate by her ears.
When they were informed of the sow’s cruel mistreatment, the local police department and SPCA contacted Farm Sanctuary. Thanks to the quick and conscientious intervention of these agencies, too rare in cases of farm animal abuse, we were able to come promptly to the aid of the expectant mother. When we opened the crate to free the sow, whom the farm owner referred to as “feisty,” she rose reluctantly to her feet, glancing at us warily as if she expected to be kicked or beaten again at any moment. We didn’t see feistiness, only profound fear, as we helped her into our transport trailer.
Then, a mere eight hours after she arrived at our New York Shelter, the sow gave birth to 16 premature piglets. The premature labor was, no doubt, a result of her extreme stress. Our new Melrose Small Animal Hospital proved to be a tremendous asset during this emergency delivery, allowing us to keep the piglets safe and comfortable as we cleaned the birthing area. It is touch-and-go for these fragile babies, and our shelter’s entire staff has been helping to provide the medical care, fluids, and hourly feedings that they require around the clock. The stronger piglets quickly learned to drink on their own, so they were able to take milk replacer, but several of the weaker piglets continued to need critical care.
The mother, too, is in a precarious condition. Her body testifies to the cruelty she endured: flat feet and leg sores from the crate bars and barren concrete floors common in factory farms, as well as kick bruises and burns from the attack that left her lying exhausted and unable to eat in her farrowing crate. Her energy and appetite remain very low, and, as a result, she’s having trouble producing sufficient milk for her new babies. Her fear, however, has subsided in the presence of her new, gentle caregivers, who describe her as “angelic.” She calmly greets our staff as they administer her fluids and antibiotics and care for her piglets. Astoundingly, this animal who has known such violence at human hands has already recognized that the people now surrounding her are her friends. Her capacity to trust is an inspiration to us as we fight to restore her and her babies to health.
If their mother not been rescued, and if they survived birth and infancy in the harsh conditions of the factory farm, those baby pigs would have grown up in dim, crowded warehouses and been slaughtered for pork when they were just six months old. In place of that senseless misery and death, they now have ahead of them life, liberty, and a world of happiness.
See more photos of Julia and her piglets at our photo gallery.
You can make a gift to the Emergency Rescue Fund to help Julia, her babies, and other animals in need of urgent rescue.