From Rooterville, A Sanctuary Inc.
Formerly Wings of Mercy Animal Rescue
Spreading Compassion through:
Rescue, Education, Activism
A 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization
"Pigs need love too!" ~ from "BABE"
Milton, Florida Rescue
The Milton Rescue: I never would have thought I could pull this one off! We were alerted by my friend Jackie, Jo Jo’s mom, that a lady she worked with was trying to "get rid of" her pigs, encouraging breeding them by claiming that the babies could be sold to the pet stores. Well, of course, this is exactly what we don’t want! Fortunately, she was not getting any takers and I arranged a trip to go over and check out the situation as one pig had babies and another was pregnant (photo-left).
Upon arrival, Jackie and I were shown to the barn where the pigs were living. It was awful. There were 3 male pigs, now named Buxton and his 2 sons, Beeper and unnamed, in a small pen that was deep in filthy mud and excrement. At least they were not starved, I thought! They were not tame, and of course, they had not been neutered. In a tiny pen, maybe 6’ x 6’ were the three females (photo-right). One had already had her 5 babies, she was very thin and deformed from an apparent back injury. The babies were all healthy. Another small pig was huge with babies, but we could not be sure when she was due. The third little girl, we could not tell if she was pregnant or not. All the pigs were being eaten up by the flies, not being able to get away from them in such small pens.
I took pictures and posted their story and homes were offered in sanctuaries for them. So, then came the task of building pens for them and getting them to the shelter in Panama City (photo-left). I borrowed several large carriers from the shelter and rented an open trailer from U Haul and arranged to meet a couple of other piggy people there who could help load them all up. Of course, it had to be opening day of monsoon season the day we decided to do this rescue! :-/ As soon as we arrived and backed the trailer up to the barn, the bottom fell out of the sky and it poured! We were all soaked. But, the fun was just beginning! In the mud, were some piggies that weren’t too happy to leave the only home they had ever known!
Fortunately, one of our rescue friends was very strong and also very good at catching the pigs, even the 150 lb Buxton (photo-right), who he grabbed up like a rag doll and hoisted into a waiting carrier! I couldn’t believe it! Where had he been all this time while I was breaking my back! We got everyone loaded and covered with a tarp in the pouring rain. On the way back, we stopped over to get Lily, Taz and Winnie who were staying with Jackie in foster care. We loaded them into the car, as they were very good travelers, and then headed back to Panama City. The poor rescue pigs had never been in grass and were delighted in their new pens with igloos filled with hay to snuggle in. The babies were having a ball, running and spinning and playing in the grass and hay! What an exhausting day!
The next day, early in the morning, I received a call from the shelter that one of the "small" pigs had gotten caught in the fence and broken his leg. What a terrible thing! I was so afraid that it was Taz, the way they described the injured pig. (Taz is under the pile of piggies - photo-left) Apparently, when the factory behind the shelter started up their machinery, the three boar pigs panicked and rushed the fence. One of the younger boars had managed somehow to get his head through one of the squares of the fence panel and when he screamed, Buxton reacted by attacking him. Maybe he was trying to save him, I don’t know. By the time the shelter workers freed him, he had been badly bitten in the face and it appeared that both of his front legs had been broken. He was in shock by the time I got there, they were trying to keep him calm and quiet until I arrived. We had no choice but to euthanize the poor little guy. I held him and comforted him as he drifted off to eternity. I waited until he was gone to cry. I felt so bad that I had "rescued" him for this. It was so sad. Such a tragedy.
Then, with all the pigs in pens which were nearly flooded from all the rain we had been getting, along comes a HURRICANE! Just what we needed! I can’t remember worrying so much about anything in my life! All the pigs had to protect them at the shelter was a lean-to and igloos. The land was already soaked and muddy. I had to haul in bag after bag of mulch to try to give them dry ground to lay on. If we were to get hurricane force winds and rain, they could be injured or possibly drown. Beside the mulch, I put up tarps to try to shield them from blowing rain and wind. I took 4 of my pigs, who were at the shelter due to Panama City Beach’s threats and harassment, back to my home along with the very pregnant momma to be (photo-above left). I did all that I could do to prepare, the rest was in God’s hands. All night long, I fretted and worried. The hurricane came, the winds blew, the rain came-but surprisingly, there was not much rain for a hurricane. My prayers had been heard! I rushed over to the shelter at day break to find everyone safe. The flood waters had come up, but the pigs were dry on the mulch and the tarps had held! What a blessing!
Not long after, the vet came out to neuter Buxton and his remaining son, Beeper, and they were put in the small outdoor kennel on fresh hay to keep the mud from causing their incisions to become infected. The babies were all neutered the following week and with all the mud, they HAD to come to the house to heal up safely. What fun they were, too! I enjoyed having them so much.
Then, for the main event, the little momma pig was ready to deliver! The poor little thing looked like she had swallowed a basketball. It had been a long time since I had been a midwife and I was SO nervous! I called the vet to prepare her, in case there was any trouble. As she started into labor, I was a wreck! When nothing was happening after about 20 minutes, I called the vet. While I was on the phone with the vet, out popped the first little one! My panic turned to relief as I let the poor vet get back to helping other pet folks and cleaned the little one up. There is nothing cuter than a baby pig! They are born with their eyes open, ready to experience life! Not long after, another baby was born. The third baby, was a problem. He was bigger and she was having a hard time pushing him out. His little head seemed stuck as I cleaned it so he could breath and then tried to help ease him out. Fortunately, he finally came into the world and was fine. Expecting about 8 or 9 more babies, I patiently waited while the little ones started exploring and nursing. But, that was it! Three gorgeous little ones, a girl and 2 boys, all healthy. I could relax, now.
A couple of days after birth, the smallest piglet was not nursing enough and I began to supplement him. He developed diarrhea quickly and I knew he was in trouble. We went to the vet immediately to get medicine, fearing e-coli. A girl at the shelter wanted to keep him during the day while I worked, so we fixed a small carrier with a heating pad for him and, as hard as it was, I turned him over to her care. Within a few days, his condition had deteriorated and on Friday, I took him to a different vet, hoping to get better medicine, something, anything. What we had was not working and I was desperate. It was the weekend, and at least I would be home with him. I was diligent with the routine of medications and administering fluids, even throughout the night. The little one was fading away but he still was alert enough to acknowledge my care and softly grunt to me and nuzzle me. It was heartbreaking to see him struggling for life. Then, it was almost like a miracle Sunday morning. He woke me with his grunting and was strong enough to stand and even act frisky and he was so hungry! My hopes soared that he was going to make it only to be dashed as he crashed later that afternoon. He was in pain, he cried so pitifully, like a baby. My heart was breaking for him, as I gathered the courage to end his suffering. I couldn’t stick his thin little body with another needle, I couldn’t bear to hear him cry. I made the call to ask Lois, the shelter director, to ask if she would meet me to put him to sleep. I held him close as he crossed the bridge. He was such a precious little fellow, now he lives in the greatest home of all, heaven where he will never want for any good thing.
His little family went to live with Lynne, at Noah’s Ark, a few weeks later and have been adopted since. The rest of the Milton rescues went to sanctuaries in Tennessee, at Shepherd’s Green, and Safe Harbour Farms in Kentucky. Beeper has gone on to a sanctuary in Arizona and all of the babies have been adopted. The crippled mom has received veterinary care for her back at Safe Harbour and is doing well.
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