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 farmsanctuary.org or give us a call at 607-583-2225 ext. 221 today.