Starving Pigs Rescued in Cattaraugus County, NY

Starving Pigs Rescued from Nightmarish Conditions in Cattaraugus County, NY

Barns where terrified animals lived in complete darkness, where a lack of air flow caused the air to reek of ammonia and food and water were nowhere to be found. 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.

Among the dozens of pigs suffering on the property was a mother and nine newborns, all of whom were in bad shape. We were told that the mother had given birth to 17 piglets; what befell the other eight is, sadly, anyone’s guess. In addition to this family, we were also able to take in 14 additional piglets in desperate need.

These survivors needed extensive, round-the-clock treatment. Four were taken immediately to Cornell University’s Nemo Farm Animal Hospital, and as the weeks passed, many others required more extensive medical care and hospitalization. They were emaciated and suffering from severe mange. Making matters worse, the ammonia-filled air they’d been forced to breathe is infamous for causing respiratory distress, among other ailments. 

These animals have been through so much, but thanks to Farm Sanctuary supporters, they are safe for life and will never again know anything but love, care, and kindness. You can be a part of our work rescuing farm animals in need and educating and advocating on their behalf by becoming a member today. A compassionate world begins with you!