Spotted wandering along the side of a busy road, the piglets were frightened and wary. Maybelle had an infected eye, Anna was limping, and both were infested with scabies and suffering from upper respiratory infections. They were also very thirsty and hungry, which is what allowed Julie, using some treats, to finally lure them into a crate and whisk them to safety.
Anna and Maybelle had likely fallen off a transport vehicle. Piglets are notorious for squirming their way out of trailers, and they sometimes fall out onto the road without the driver even noticing (this in addition to the countless piglets and other farm animals who end up on the road when transport vehicles crash or overturn; one such tragic accident recently brought us to Ohio). Such incidents can be fatal for the young animals, but Anna and Maybelle were lucky enough to avoid being seriously injured in the fall or getting hit by another vehicle. They also had each other, which was surely a comfort during their two frightening days by the roadside.
Upon capturing them, Julie, who works with the non-profit Georgia Animal Rights and Protection (GARP), brought the pair to her house and made them a blanket nest on her porch. The exhausted piglets headed straight for the cozy pile and fell promptly to sleep.
Over the next several days, Julie got to know the piglets. She had them examined by a vet, who started them on treatment for their scabies. Anna and Maybelle settled in, and even quickly learned to sit for treats. Julie observed that the friends, possibly sisters, were closely bonded and that shy Maybelle was emotionally dependent on Anna. As she searched for a permanent home, Julie knew it would have to be one where the two could stay together.
She got in touch with PETA, where her situation came to the attention of a former Farm Sanctuary staffer. He reached out to us, and we gladly offered Anna and Maybelle a home at our New York Shelter.
We can’t know exactly where these piglets came from, but we believe they were on their way from a small farm to a stockyard. Anna and Maybelle still have their tails, indicating that they were not born on a factory farm. At large, industrial breeding operations, piglets’ tails are amputated in preparation for their time at growing/finishing facilities, where intense crowding and stress can provoke neurotic behaviors such as tail biting; rather than alter the conditions to reduce stress, producers choose to protect their “product” by altering the animals through painful mutilations. Though they began their lives at a smaller facility, Anna and Maybelle would ultimately have met the same fate as those factory pigs. At the stockyard, they would be have been sold to a finishing operating to be raised to a mere six months of age, at which point they would have been sent to slaughter.
A pig’s life can be so much more that, and Anna and Maybelle’s lives will be. At Farm Sanctuary, we recognize pigs for the complex individuals they are and work every day to nourish their health, their relationships, and their rich inner lives. Right now, these young piglets’ lives are all about exploration and fun — and each other. They play and dig and run with utter abandon, and they are always together. While Maybelle is now quite friendly, Anna is still timid and takes some time to warm up to people. Both, however, adore children. Seeing them playfully chase a pair of young visitors, we recognize a common joy in simply being alive.