The man who raised Marge abandoned her. He drove away with two of her piglets and left her in a small, squalid pen to die.
This Central New York farmer, who kept many animals over the years and promoted himself as a producer of artisanal goat cheese, had been the subject of a previous local SPCA investigation. In one instance, officers found the bodies of several slaughtered farm animals rotting on his property, but because the wounds were consistent with commonly accepted slaughter methods, they had insufficient evidence to prosecute on cruelty charges.
Some time in 2012, this farmer moved to a rental property and brought Marge with him. There, Marge gave birth to a litter of piglets. Most of these piglets, and others before them, were probably sold by the farmer for income. Whatever his money-making strategy, it was not enough to prevent his eviction from the property months later. Unwilling to transport Marge again, the farmer tried to sell her. He found one potential buyer, who intended to slaughter Marge for meat but deemed her too big for anything but sausage. The buyer made a low offer. The farmer said he would rather let Marge rot than accept the price. Two days later, he did essentially that when he abandoned her and left her with no means of staying alive.
For a few days, the owner of the rental property fed Marge, but he quickly tired of the responsibility. When SPCA officers came to her rescue, Marge had been without food or water for three days.
“Poor Marge has been viewed as a breeding machine, a source of cheap meat, and an expendable life,” says Kate Walker, Senior Humane Investigator of the SPCA of Tompkins County. “Until her rescue, she was not seen as the personable, intelligent, funny pig that she is.”
Upon her reprieve, we helped the SPCA by transporting Marge to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals for evaluation and treatment. Vets there found that she was dehydrated and had recently experienced significant weight loss. After several days of observation at the hospital, Marge was released to a foster home.
Marge spent a few months with her attentive foster mom, recovering from her ordeal and sharing her strong opinions on food — typically by flipping her dish in disapproval when it was filled with anything but her preferred variety of pellets. Marge’s caregiver loved her, but she was not able to keep her for long. While Marge lived with her, we searched for a permanent home through our adoption network. Finding that all of our pig adopters in the area were at capacity, we decided to welcome Marge to our New York Shelter.
Now, as the SPCA continues to work on its case against the man who neglected and imperiled Marge, we’re getting to know this talkative and friendly pig. We’ve already discovered that she will hold long, steady eye contact with her visitors, beaming sweetly all the while. We’re excited to provide a future for this new member of the Farm Sanctuary family — a wonderful ambassador for all pigs, who are often seen as nothing more than commodities, but who have so much more to offer when given a chance.