Wednesday, February 2, 2011
HONS In Vermont!!!
By JOSH STILTS, Reformer Staff
Volunteers lead an approximately 900-pound boar to a trailer at the Retreat Farm in Brattleboro. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Wednesday, February 2 2011
BRATTLEBORO - Five large orphaned pigs from Windham County found a new home after volunteers from across the United States and Canada worked together to rescue them from the slaughterhouse.
When members of the Hearts on Noses webpage, a pig rescue group, heard that some pigs that could no longer be cared for were going up for auction, they decided to contact local veterinarians and animal rescue groups.
The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in Willow, N.Y., worked tirelessly to find the animals a home after the caretaker of the Brattleboro Retreat Farm agreed to postpone the pigs' potential sale.
Hours before the deadline, Gia Martin, who owns a farm in Valatie, N.Y., saw a post on Facebook that a potential home in North Carolina had fallen through, said she would be able to provide a temporary home for the animals.
"I have the barn space and as long as donations keep coming in, I'll be able to keep them," Martin said.
Loading the four females pigs was relatively easy, she said. The boar, however, had overgrown hooves and was unstable when standing for long periods of time.
People attempted to move him four times with no success onto a trailer to join the other pigs, but they were unable to coax him to move more than 10 to 15 feet, to the edge of his living area.
On Friday, eight volunteers struggled for more than an hour to get the roughly 900-pound pig loaded onto a trailer.
The boar, nicknamed Big Poppa, pushed
back with all his might as the volunteers tempted him with apples and tried to use plastic boards to move him up the ramp.
Shelia Hyslop, sanctuary manager for the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, said the five pigs will serve as advocates for other animal rescues.
"It's ironic we're spending so much time and energy on these pigs when 120,000 are slaughtered for food in the U.S. each year," Hyslop said. "But we feel they deserve a chance to live."
Hyslop said she wasn't sure of Big Poppa's condition before the pigs arrived and planned to merely assess his situation.
"The fact that he got up so quickly on his own suggested his spirit is still strong," she said. "His legs aren't good but it's tough to tell if it's from his arthritis or hooves."
Local veterinarian Dr. Steven Major, who has worked with the Brattleboro Retreat Farm for more than 22 years, disagreed with the decision to try and save the boar.
"The most humane thing to do to this pig would be to put it down," Major said. "It isn't likely to be productive to keep an old arthritic boar going."
He added that the Retreat Farm has always taken excellent care of its animals.
"If he was in really bad shape, he would have given up entirely when we were moving him," Hyslop said in response to Major's comments. "He only half-way laid down when we were trying to move him. With better hoof treatment and a stricter diet, he should be able to live another five or six years."
She guessed that each of the pigs is about 5 years old and through donations from more than a dozen states and British Columbia, Canada, roughly $540 was raised to support the rescue. Elana Kirshenbaum, program director of the Woodstock Farm, said she fielded calls from all over the U.S., trying to find the five pigs a permanent home and will continue to do so.
"We have a huge crisis in this country with domestic animals such as cats and dogs," Kirshenbaum said. "Farm animals are even more difficult to place."
Josh Stilts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.