These are the conditions that dozens of pigs were forced to endure on a horrific Cattaraugus County, NY, farm before being seized from the property this January.
On January 16, we received a call from the Cattaraugus County SPCA, with whom we’ve collaborated on several large-scale rescues in the past, asking if we could come to the site to assess a potential cruelty case involving approximately 85 pigs.
Located about 120 miles west of our New York Shelter, Cattaraugus County is an established farming region that has been the site of several large-scale rescues in recent years, including cases in which we rescued more than 60 animals from a backyard butcher operation in 2012 and nearly 400 from a so-called “humane” farm-to-table operation in 2016. Perhaps most distressing of all, another previous rescue we conducted in Cattaraugus County took place on this very same property, when more than 125 pigs were saved from neglect in late 2002. In that incident, the pigs’ “owner” received three years of probation, during which he was not allowed to own or harbor any animals. Had this ban still been in effect, we can only imagine how much trauma could have been spared the unfortunate pigs from this rescue.
We set out before dawn on January 17 to assess the situation and help as many of these unfortunate pigs as possible, as quickly as possible. When we arrived at the scene, we were appalled to discover how desperate the situation truly was. The pigs were trapped inside sheds, barns, and trailers; they had spent their lives in darkness. The air was so thick with ammonia that our eyes burned, and they stood in a deep layer of their own feces. Pens had been built around them so that they could barely move.
Due to the horrific conditions we observed, we immediately set out for the local courthouse to appeal to a judge and acquire a seizure order.