Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday afternoon, the first of the pregnant sows, Rosebud, welcomed eight tiny piglets into the world! An event that lasted about 2 ½ hours, this emotional first birth culminated in the safe delivery of a breech baby who was born at 6 p.m. One of the smallest piglets in the litter was too weak to nurse on his own. He was bottle- fed vital colostrum from his mother and then taken to a veterinary hospital for postnatal care. Meanwhile, caregivers here kept vigil by Rosebud’s side, watching over her fragile babies who – due to all their mother had been through – are premature and require our constant attention.

As we cared for Rosebud and doted on her little ones, another pregnant sow, Mango, was settling into a birthing hut out in the pasture, and at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, she too gave birth to eight beautiful girls and boys! One of Mango’s babies was also smaller and weaker than the rest of her litter and was taken to the hospital to join Rosebud’s baby yesterday afternoon. Happily, these two remain stable, but will stay in intensive care until it is safer to bring them back home.

Today, all of the other 14 piglets are nursing steadily and gaining strength, taking their first adventurous steps, resting close to their siblings for comfort and warmth, and being lulled to sleep by their mothers’ soothing chatter. No longer imprisoned by the bars of a factory farm gestation crate and denied the chance to nurture and protect their babies, Rosebud and Mango are extremely affectionate and visibly thrilled with the new piglets –all of whom they now lovingly care for in the ways that they freely choose.

With 16 new babies in our care and many more pregnant sows about to give birth, our work in the Emergency Rescue & Rehabilitation Center nursery has only just begun. Already, caregivers are stationed next to the mothers 24 hours a day so we can respond immediately to any complications that may arise. Though our population and responsibilities grow so do the joys of seeing these pigs thrive. As we embark on this whole new journey in our efforts to give a second chance to the flood survivors, join us in celebrating the births and watch the slideshow below!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Watch our latest video on the Midwest Flood Pig Rescue!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

With all the pigs now at our New York Shelter, we have never been busier! After putting an urgent call out for volunteers last week, we have so far gotten a great response and, thanks to the compassion of animal advocates across the nation, are further on our way to securing the onsite help we need to carry out this massive rehabilitative effort.

Right now, the more than 60 special needs pigs saved from the floods are receiving the critical care, treatments and surgeries they need to recover, and between hospital visits, veterinary exams and daily health checks are settling into the routine of sanctuary life. Anticipating twice-a-day feedings, taking restorative naps in mounds of straw, and reveling in the spray of garden hose “showers,” the pigs, little by little, are also learning to trust from the caregivers and volunteers who lovingly tend to their every need.

Happily, the pigs who are well enough to explore are also enjoying the outdoors. These days, it’s nearly impossible to stop by the shelter and not see pink everywhere – speckling the landscape as pigs root in the dirt, wallow in luxurious mud pits, nibble on green vegetation, or just relax among the wildflowers. Never before have our Emergency Rescue & Rehabilitation Center pastures revealed to the world such a remarkable sight!

Enjoy the following slideshow of the pigs loving their outdoor freedom on the farm, and stay tuned for more to come on the brave individuals rescued from the floods. And, if you can take part in this incredible effort by becoming a volunteer caregiver or shelter intern at our New York Shelter, or opening your home to rescued pigs, please call 607-583-2225 or visit Lifesaving donations to our Emergency Rescue Fund can also be made with a quick click on the donate button found on right hand side of the blog. As we continue this work, we need you more now than ever before!

Friday, July 11, 2008

After having made the more than 15-hour trip from Iowa to New York, the remaining survivors from the “Big Ditch” levee arrived at Farm Sanctuary at 10 p.m. last night. The first trailer, driven by Susie Coston and Dan D’Eramo, was unloaded first – among its extremely precious passengers a mother sow, who gave birth in the flood zone, and her seven perfect little piglets. Prior to hitting the road, Dan and Susie put the piglets in a carrier next to their mother to keep them secure for travel and planned to stop every two hours so the little ones could nurse. But mama sow had other plans. Within the hour, she proved she could do the job better by skillfully dismantling the carrier, gathering her babies around her, and keeping them tucked in the straw near her belly for the rest of the trip.

A second even larger trailer leading the way to Watkins Glen held nearly everyone else, and the unloading of it upon arrival at the sanctuary resulted in a stunning parade of 40 plus beautiful pigs who filed off the truck in an orderly fashion, two-by-two and three-by-three, as soon as the doors swung open. Greeted immediately by new Farm Sanctuary friends and caregivers as they entered our Emergency Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, the pigs wasted no time exploring and diving into generous offerings of fresh herbs, carrots and watermelon before piling up together and settling into mounds of straw for sleep.

With all these amazing animals suddenly coming to our New York Shelter, the sanctuary still buzzes today with excitement and activity. Now begins the tasks of establishing feeding schedules and healthcare routines, closely watching over pregnant sows, keeping vigil by the sides of the injured and sick, and showing these incredible survivors of factory farm and flood the ways of being free. Stay tuned for lots more news to come, and see a slideshow of last night’s arrival below!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

During a massive rescue effort last Thursday, 22 more pigs, some located about 12 miles down the Oakville “Big Ditch” levee were rescued by our incredible, and now very seasoned, coalition team members. After having perfected the technique of securing stranded pigs with the help of Farm Sanctuary staff, Chuck Pappas and Dan D’Eramo, the crew built a makeshift corral with plastic panels and zip ties, skillfully herding the most tenacious survivors inside. After as many as possible were safely penned before dark, the large group was then transported off the levee in a trailer pulled by a tractor – another vital piece of equipment secured through the efforts of Farm Sanctuary crew member, Julie Janovsky, who has been in charge of logistics for the entire operation. Filling another long day in the field, the rescue was exhausting for the team, but well worth every ounce of stamina as it resulted in the majority of the remaining live pigs on the levee being saved.

The following day, Friday, July 4, 10 more pigs – the very last of the “Big Ditch Levee” survivors, as well as a few others from around Oakville – were rescued, raising the number of pigs in our care in Iowa to 54, and the total of pigs rescued (including 12 already at our New York Shelter and another from Illinois recently adopted into a loving, permanent home) to 69! Among the rescued pigs are at least 10 sows who have viable late-term pregnancies – which means we may be welcoming dozens of piglets into the world in the days to come.

A number of the most recently rescued pigs, those who’ve been hiding out on the levee the longest, are in rough shape – at least eight of the pigs are extremely emaciated, several are gravely ill, and most have very severe sunburn on their ears and backs. All are underweight and very, very scared. Under the care of National Shelter Director Susie Coston, who has made a triage of the Iowa holding area, these pigs are receiving emergency care, but the road to rehabilitation will be very long and hard for many.

Despite all they’ve been through, some pigs, like one Susie affectionately dubbed “Doctor,” have already managed to come out of their shells. “We started calling this sweet boy ‘Doctor’ because he always follows us around when we’re doing health care on the pigs and talks into their ears, as if he’s asking what’s wrong and how he can help,” said Susie. “He’s really good at making people feel better, as well. When I’m exhausted and lay on the ground to rest, he’ll come and lie across my body and talk in my ear, too. He really keeps me going.” The humor, beauty and love that already radiates from these pigs is life-affirming, and we are overjoyed that we have the honor of knowing them and helping them move toward a future where they can really shine.

As this monumental rescue quickly grows into the most expensive operation ever undertaken by Farm Sanctuary, we are in more need now than ever before of support from our members. If you would like to make a gift to provide healthcare and transport back to our New York Shelter for the pigs, please visit or give us a call at 607-583-2225 ext. 221 today.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

As our rescue mission continues in Oakville, Iowa we wanted to give you a glimpse into the incredible efforts of the crew on the ground by sharing this video from one of our coalition partners, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), narrated by Dick Green – IFAW disaster relief manager and the incident commander of our team. Watch out for Farm Sanctuary’s very own Chuck Pappas and Dan D’Eramo, as they work with IFAW, AHA, and ARL-Boston workers to secure and load stranded pigs onto a trailer for transport off the levee!

Help Farm Sanctuary continue our rescue efforts in the Midwest by making a donation to our Emergency Rescue Fund at or by calling 607-583-2225. Or, if you or someone you know can adopt a rescued pig into your home, please contact or 607-583-2225 ext. 223.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Twelve pigs arrived at our Watkins Glen shelter at about 6 p.m. last night to an emotional welcome by relieved Farm Sanctuary staff and interns who helped unload the pigs and guide them to the straw piles, cool fans, and plentiful food and water that awaited them in our Rescue and Refuge Barn. Many of the pigs surprised us by walking right off the truck – as easily they walked on. A few of the youngsters at the end of the line needed a little more coaxing, but eventually followed our lead with the promise of yummy food. One of the girls, who has pneumonia, had to be carried to a quiet resting area by two of our staff, and was settled in right away and comforted by New York shelter manager, Jessica Parry. (See a slideshow of the pigs' arrival at Farm Sanctuary at the end of this post.)

Once they were all gently herded into a cozy area of the barn and had a chance to rest, all of the pigs were checked over by our caregivers and their immediate medical needs were assessed. Though the pigs were in worse shape than our caregivers expected, most of them are stable and settling quite nicely into their new environment. Despite all she’s been through, one of the older sows, in fact, has already shown herself to be extremely outgoing and playful and is quickly becoming known around the farm for her skill in untying peoples’ shoe laces. Not quite as lucky as the others, two of the pigs, the girl with pneumonia and another little one with an injured leg, were taken to Cornell University’s Veterinary Hospital first thing this morning so that they could receive the urgent care they need. Right now, their condition is very critical, but we will work with vets to do all we can to see them through this ordeal and give them the beautiful life they deserve.

On the ground in Iowa, the tireless rescue coalition of Farm Sanctuary, IFAW, AHA, and ARL-Boston brought eight more pigs off the levee last night. Efforts to save more animals continue with full force today. Thankfully, the pigs who came off the levee last night, a group made up of two adults and six youngsters, are eating and drinking well and seem to be in relatively good health. These pigs - and the 16 others awaiting transport from Iowa to Farm Sanctuary - are today being administered antibiotics for treatment of pneumonia and foot infections, as well as treated for sunburn with skin ointment typically used on burn victims (a treatment, happily, that has been working very well in bringing relief to the pigs). The mother of the seven piglets the crew rescued on Monday is also receiving vitamin shots, as nursing her little ones has drained her and she is very thin. Still, this brave, devoted mother provides her babies with the very best care and we are doing all we can to help her continue nurturing them as she has up until her rescue.

Sadly, two of the sows rescued earlier in the mission are not doing as well as the others, and despite our exhaustive attempts to treat them, we know now that they may not be able to beat the life-threatening infections they are battling. The other mother sow who was rescued Monday, but who had lost all of her babies, is in deep mourning - still crying out for her little ones, and we are very worried about her and wish we could ease her pain. Though these sad reports weigh heavily on our hearts, the animals’ inspiring will to survive carries us onward and keeps giving everyone hope. Freed from the rigors of factory farming and saved from the floods, these rescued souls express palpable joy even through their suffering, and we can see it in their eyes growing brighter by the hour.

We are now in urgent need of adoptive homes for the rescued pigs. If you are able to open your heart and home to a pig in desperate need of a second chance at life, please contact us now at 607-583-2225 ext. 223 or

If you are unable to adopt a pig into your home, please consider making a lifesaving donation to our Emergency Rescue Fund, which is already hard at work funding this critical rescue operation and providing aid to pigs and other farm animals in need. Please donate today by visiting or by calling 607-583-2225.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The first group of pigs to come home to our New York Shelter left Oakville, Iowa yesterday at 4 p.m. and are expected to arrive in Watkins Glen any hour now. We are very pleased to report that most of these pigs walked right up to and into the transport trailer with ease despite injuries, illness and exhaustion – almost as if they knew they were going to a better place. Moments like this reveal just how much determination these brave animals have, and their courage continues to astound us every day.

We are also very happy to report that the rescue coalition of Farm Sanctuary, IFAW, AHA, and ARL-Boston saved 13 more pigs yesterday, which brings the total number of pigs rescued so far to 28. Among the 13, we have one mother and seven piglets - all of whom were born within the past week. The mother and her babies are doing quite well, and the piglets are the cutest we've ever seen! Prior to their rescue, the mother had built two nests for her babies in the field and already taught them how to hide from strangers. The pigs are voracious eaters and the mother, although naturally protective, has been kind to her rescuers, allowing them to admire her little ones. The crew really needed this success, and bringing these babies and their mother to safety has raised everyone's spirits.

With that said, we also have some sad news to report pertaining to the other five sows the rescue team saved yesterday. One of the mothers was found guarding a barn door and when the crew walked into the building they saw that none of her babies had made it. Another sow has an abscess on her foot that appears to have moved into her joint, creating a very serious health situation that we will need to monitor closely. We will do everything we can to save her, but it will be an uphill battle.

In other news, our national shelter director, Susie Coston, has arrived on the scene to oversee the care and transport of rescued pigs; in Susie’s loving and expert hands, the pigs have found their best hope for a new life. Farm Sanctuary is incredibly proud of our entire team, as they’ve worked tirelessly and against great odds to save so many animals. The team includes chief rescue and investigations officer, Dan D’Eramo, and shelter project coordinator, Chuck Pappas, both of whom have been in the flooded region since June 20, lending their invaluable skills and ingenuous strategies for catching and containing pigs during rescues; our campaigns director, Julie Janovsky, who has been instrumental to the entire mission by using her expertise in disaster response to help bring the rescue coalition together and coordinate efforts with local authorities; and communications director, Tricia Barry, who is sharing the pigs’ story with the nation. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them and everyone else on this critical rescue operation.

Piglets prior to rescue hiding in the nest their mother built. Photo Credit: IFAW -

Please keep scrolling for more photos and a slideshow below.