Monday, June 30, 2008

It was an emotional and treacherous weekend for our rescue team on the ground in Iowa as they continued to persevere in their efforts to aid pigs stranded on a levee in Oakville, as well as respond to reports of pigs on the loose in and around the town. Given high winds, we were unable to approach the levee via boats, so we shifted our strategy to land access points. On Saturday, the rescue coalition of Farm Sanctuary, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), American Humane Association (AHA), and Animal Rescue League of Boston rescued two pigs - a mother sow and a young pig who is estimated to be about two- to three-months-old. The vet on site helping with the animals determined that the piglet was not the sow’s own, but nonetheless, they had adopted one another and remain inseparable at our holding area where they are being cared for by the groups. Despite all these two pigs had been through, they are in relatively good shape. Both, however, are so badly sunburned that their skin is actually charred black and peeling off, but they are eating and drinking and starting to perk up.

On Sunday, the groups rescued five more pigs (making a total of 15 saved so far in the Oakville area). We believe that these pigs are youngsters (anywhere from two- to five-months-old based on size). They were in much worse shape than the two brought in the day before, as they were extremely thin and literally starving. One poor pig is so skinny and badly sunburned that the skin over her backbone appears to be completely lifted on either side of her spine. When we first pulled these pigs out of the crates at the temporary holding area, we weren’t sure if they were even going to have the strength to eat. Luckily, they did start eating and drinking and even perked up a little after receiving nourishment. The exhausted pigs gravitated toward each other and piled up together for comfort and warmth, bonding immediately in the moments after their rescue.

Sadly, while out in the field yesterday, we were forced to euthanize two pigs who were in such poor shape we could not save them — a sad reality that we are facing daily, as the floods have left dead and dying pigs everywhere. The USDA initiated recovery efforts of the thousands of pig carcasses from the region’s hog farms and we’ve watched mournfully as truck loads of them have come off the river and the levees. Our team is physically and mentally exhausted from this experience, but we are fueled by each successful rescue and committed to continuing our mission for as long as we possibly can to ensure we can get as many surviving pigs as possible and bring them to safety.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Safe at last, one of the pigs rests in our trailer after rescue.

Having finally received approval from the state of Iowa to enter the Oakville area, Farm Sanctuary’s emergency rescue team (along with IFAW, AHA and ARL) was able to head out on the water this morning to assess the situation on a 16 to 20 mile stretch of levee where an indeterminate number of pigs are stranded. On this mission, the rescue coalition will search for the pigs and bring them food. We still don’t know what we will find out there, or what condition the pigs will be in, but we remain hopeful and will do everything we can to bring any survivors safely home. Meanwhile, we are happy to report that we have rescued more pigs in and around the town of Oakville, making a total of eight beautiful pigs now in our custody. All of the animals were severely dehydrated and are badly sunburned, others are injured and sick, but volunteers are now working to keep them comfortable and safe until they make the trip back to our New York Shelter. They will arrive on Monday! We also have another lucky pig in our custody in Illinois and we hope to see her to sanctuary soon, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Since arriving in the flooded region late last week, Farm Sanctuary's emergency rescue team has worked closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the American Humane Association (AHA) to see to the aid of stranded farm animals throughout the region. We now have confimation by state officials to undertake a massive rescue effort in Iowa to recover as many pigs as possible from the Oakville area of Lousa County and northern Des Moines County, and to provide these animals with emergency care and safe refuge. Last night, our rescue team came to the aid of four pigs who are now out of the danger zone and awaiting veterinary inspection. We will continue to keep you updated on our efforts to save as many of the survivors as we can.

Photos Courtesy of Molly Wald and Best Friends Animal Society <>.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Farm Sanctuary is doing everything we can to gain access to the affected areas, and we have dispatched a rescue team and transport truck to the region. Others are on stand-by to take immediate action, as needed.

We have submitted a formal request for access to the affected areas to coordinate rescue efforts for livestock. We are currently awaiting permission from local officials to enter the region. Unfortunately, given current laws, gaining access to rescue food animals has proven incredibly challenging. Oftentimes, farm animals are returned to their owners without question. We hope to rescue farm animals in the region and ensure they are brought to sanctuary.

Sadly, the reports of law enforcement officers shooting pigs on the levies have been confirmed. Given the circumstances, the killing of these pigs is considered legal. However, we are looking into this case further.

If you want to help, the best thing you can do right now is support our Emergency Rescue Fund. Donations to the Emergency Rescue Fund enable us to respond to suffering farm animals immediately whenever a natural disaster strikes, or when we receive cruelty reports. We can't do it without you. Your contribution to the Emergency Rescue Fund today is greatly appreciated, and will directly save lives and end suffering. To make a donation to the Emergency Rescue Fund, you can call 607-583-2225 ext. 221, click here to make a donation using our secure online form, or mail payment to: Farm Sanctuary, PO Box 150, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

We will keep you posted on progress as new information comes to light.

Photos Courtesy of Molly Wald and Best Friends Animal Society <>.