Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Polly, Patrick and Wilbur – saved by neglect

Reformed Fast Food Mascot’s post today cut right to the chase.

A Minnesota pet sitter accused of animal abuse for letting a potbellied pig triple her weight was fined $1,000 and sentenced to a year of probation. So how could the pet sitter have avoided the animal cruelty charges? Simple. Confine the pig in a cage too small for her to turn around in, shoot a captive stun bolt into her brain, then while the stunned pig is still blinking and struggling, dunk her in a tank of scalding water to loosen her hide for skinning.

Some of the pigs at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary have arrived through the courts, through neglect cases. These are farmers who intend to make money off the animals, and had plans to treat the pigs essentially as RFFM described. Yet something went wrong, and they found themselves unable to give even that much “care” to the pigs. Eventually the county will step in and tell the farmers to do something. What they mean by “do something” is “slaughter these animals or we’re going to take them away.” Isn’t that weird? That’s how it works though. When the farmers have so little money that they can’t afford to get the animals to slaughter, the county steps in, and some of the animals end up at sanctuaries like Poplar Spring. And presumably the farmers are prosecuted for neglect…which they would not have been if they’d actually killed the animals. It is a mixed message – killing the animals on purpose to make money off the death is okay. Killing the animals through neglect or otherwise not making money off them is not okay. What is wrong with that picture?

What is missing, of course, is any feeling that the animals in question are individuals.

A month or two ago a small family arrived at Poplar Spring. A mother pig, Polly, and her two sons, Patrick and Wilbur. It was the first time a momma pig had come to the sanctuary with her babies, so we were especially curious to see how they would be, together.

The babies were a few months old by the time the family arrived, so we weren’t sure how much mothering Polly would be doing. They were already weaned, though it is difficult to know whether they would normally have been weaned by that age. The three pigs had come from an extreme neglect case in the county. They’d been living on a trash heap, and it really is amazing that they are alive at all. Polly is quite small for an adult pig. Terry thought that she’d continue to grow, once she finally had enough food, but now they think that Polly’s growth was permanently stunted from malnourishment, that she’ll always be a small pig.

Small, but mighty. When the three first arrived, they stayed in the quarantine stall, as all the new residents do. It was when they went out into the general population that Polly flexed her mom muscles. The first pig to approach them was Peapod, a big love of a pig. I remember when he first came to the sanctuary, as a tiny piglet himself. Now he’s one of the larger pigs, but still a sweetheart. I imagine he was just being friendly, but Polly wasn’t having anything to do with it. She’s probably less than half Peapod’s size, but she didn’t let that stop her – she flipped Peapod right over onto his back. That was mom-speak for “don’t mess with my babies.” They’ve never seen anything like it!

Now they are fully integrated into the group. Polly is often, but not always, near Patrick and Wilbur. The two boys are almost always together. Patrick has polka dots on his butt, which makes him easy to pick out. Plus he’s the one who comes running over to see if we’ve got any goodies for him.

It’s really amazing to see a family of pigs at the sanctuary.


3 responses to “Polly, Patrick and Wilbur – saved by neglect

  1. Pingback: » Blog Archive » easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-04-16

  2. ryan April 26, 2009 at 9:23 am

    hey deb, i ran into you at the bookfair. thought i might see you at the jensen event last night, but no cigar. i was wondering if you might have any interest in getting a regular letter writing/political prisoner discussion group getting together again? i’ve thought about starting this back up since the BMI closed. email me if you might want to talk about this. -ryan

  3. Pingback: Wilbur’s long road to recovery « Invisible Voices

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