BROOKS — The lone surviving pig from an allegedly abusive farm owner is spending the rest of his days living the easy life at Peace Ridge Sanctuary, asked only to sleep, eat, and hang with his two pig buddies.
Angus was the only pig left alive when Ireland Farm, in Swanville, was raided by agents with the Department of Agriculture following ongoing abuse being allegedly committed by owner Jerry Ireland. It was the day before the farm was due to be inspected by the Department of Agriculture that one of their agents reported seeing Ireland shooting at his pigs and burying them in a pit being dug by a backhoe.
Daniella Tessier, who is the founder and director of Peace Ridge Sanctuary, in Brooks, said Angus was malnourished when he arrived at the sanctuary, an issue compounded by the fact that he had a high parasite burden both intestinally and topically.
“So obviously an animal that’s not being fed adequately or consistently, when they also have an abundance of intestinal parasites and topical parasites and that kind of just puts the nail in the coffin,” Tessier said.
Fortunately for Angus, these aren’t uncommon issues.
“Those are things we deal with, so we just put him into a rehab refeeding program and got rid of all the parasites, and now he’s just a big fatso,” she said.
In addition to gaining a bunch of weight, being properly cared for also led Angus into a hairy situation. Literally.
“He is really hairy; once his malnutrition was taken care of, his hair grew in, and he had this enormous, thick fur coat. It made him kind of funny looking, but he has two other pig friends named Matilda and Wilbur, and he’s kind of like the boss of the group,” Tessier said, before adding that Angus and Wilbur have a special bond.
“He loves to sleep back to back with Wilbur, they’re like special buds.”
While many think about pigs only in terms of what can be taken from them, they are, in fact, extremely intelligent, even more so than man’s canine best friend. They are able to solve problems, learn how mirrors work, play games, develop friendships, and display a wide array of emotions, according to the New York Times. They also have a long memory.
Although Angus may have taken many unhappy memories with him to Peace Ridge, he is now busy filling his time with happy replacements.
At Peace Ridge, Angus and the other 300-plus animals on the farm, never have to worry about when their next meal is coming, whether their shelter will be clean, or if a caretaker will be kind.
“Here at the shelter we’re very consistent with our care, so all of our animals learn what time it is, it might be in terms of breakfast, but… it’s kind of funny, it's almost like they’ve got this internal clock. I guess they really do because the minute you open the door in the morning [Angus will] be right there waiting,” Tessier said.
Peace Ridge Animal Sanctuary is also a state licensed shelter, though their adoptions are mostly limited to dogs and indoor rabbits.
Tessier said that while they sometimes get adoption requests for their farm animals and equines, adopters are typically looking to use the animal in some way beyond companionship.
“Certainly we would review the potential for adoption case by case, we don’t have a traditional adoption program for any of the farm animals or equines because what we’re looking for is really cushy,” she said.
If any farm animal or equine leaves the property, it would have to be for a better placement than Peace Ridge Sanctuary, Tessier said, a tall order to be sure.
Fortunately, the ‘sanctuary’ in their title means that any animal can live at Peace Ridge forever if that’s what they need.
“So no one has to worry once they come through the gates,” Tessier said.
If you know or suspect an animal is being abused, contact Maine’s Animal Welfare Office at 207-287-3846 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erica Thoms can be reached at email@example.com