Baby Pig Saved From Factory Farm Is So Spoiled Now
“Pigs are kind of like dogs. They’re very attuned to human emotions, and they have an incredible sense of smell. So they can probably smell in your sweat that you’re expressing caring emotions.”
The tiny piglet was barely holding onto life. She was sick, skinny and her foot was badly injured. If she was going to live, she needed help soon.
Wayne Hsiung saw the piglet when he arrived at the factory farm in Utah.
He’d heard that the farm had reportedly abandoned its gestation crates, tiny cages that imprison pregnant and nursing mother pigs between metal bars. But sure enough, the cages were still there.
“Mother pigs confined in these horrible farrowing crates are not even able to turn around,” Hsiung, cofounder of Direct Action Everywhere, said. “And if one of the babies is dying or distressed or unable to reach food, they can’t assist them because they’re trapped behind these bars.”
As Hsiung and his colleagues suspected, the farm was still keeping pigs in horrible conditions.
Then Hsiung caught sight of the sick, skinny piglet, whom he named Lily.
“I nearly broke down in tears, because she was curled up against her mom and kind of teetering,” Hsiung said. “The other piglets were trampling her and knocking her around, and she didn’t have the energy or strength to move. And it was just so heartbreaking.”
Lily was about 15 to 20 days old, and she only weighed about 4 pounds. But Hsiung was most concerned with Lily’s foot.
“We immediately noticed that she had this massive inflammation on her foot,” Hsiung said. “It was bleeding and infected and swollen up to the size of a golf ball. For a small piglet, that was a huge problem — she wasn’t able to walk.”
Hsiung suspects that Lily’s foot got caught in the grates of the farrowing crates, although he doesn’t know for sure.
“They have these grates underneath the piglets and the mom to allow the feces and urine to drain away as easily as possible,” Hsiung said. “And sometimes the babies get their feet stuck.”
Hsiung knew he had to help Lily, so he bent down and picked her up.
“They’re always scared when you first pick them up,” Hsiung said. “But she was really sick, so she didn’t cry out. We just pet her on the head and held her close to our chest, and said to her over and over again, ‘It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK.’”
Hsiung believes that Lily knew he was there to help her, because the piglet quickly settled down.
“Pigs are kind of like dogs,” he said. “They’re very attuned to human emotions, and they have an incredible sense of smell. So they can probably smell in your sweat that you’re expressing caring emotions. So she did just eventually just settle down into my arms. We wrapped her up in a blanket because it was pretty cold outside, and carried her to the car.”
Besides Lily, Hsiung and his colleagues rescued another distressed piglet, whom they named Lizzie.
“Lizzie was also extremely small — perhaps about half the size of the other piglets,” Hsiung said.
As soon as Lily and Lizzie were safely out of the farm, Hsiung took them to the vet, where they were treated for dehydration and given antibiotics and other medications.
“It was honestly extremely dicey the first couple of days,” Hsiung said.
But over the next few days, the piglets got healthier and stronger. And Lily started to walk.
“[Lily] walked right outside and enjoyed the outdoors,” Hsiung said. “She sniffed in the grass and started rooting.”
Lily and Lizzie now reside at a farm sanctuary, and they’re quickly growing up.
“I think that [Lily’s] 150 pounds, which is still about one-fourth of adult size, but she’s still just a kid,” Hsiung said.
“It’s a testament to the amazing fortitude of these animals that they suffer through incredibly abusive conditions,” Hsiung added. “They fight like hell and get back up with a little bit of loving care.”