Friday, May 8, 2015

Ⓥ Riley and Petunia

I've mentioned Riley and Tuni here on several occasions, but I don't think I have ever told their whole back-story. To be honest, I don't even know their whole back-story, but I can tell you what I do know and the story of how they came to live with me. You probably already know that they were both rescued by Farm Sanctuary, and that I met them there during my first internship. I don't think I've really told you much more than that though.

They were both rescued by the Watkins Glen shelter when they were very young, Petunia was still drinking from a bottle when I first met her, and they had both been very small and very sickly. I think most people don't realize how large pigs actually get, if allowed to live long enough, but despite the fact that I would guess Riley to be at least 400 pounds and Tuni is only slightly smaller, they aren't nearly as large as most of the pigs I met at Farm Sanctuary, due to their poor health when they little.

Riley developed a severe infection shortly after he was born. He was nonetheless taken to a stock sale, where he was simply ignored because no one wanted to buy a sick piglet. Farm Sanctuary found him and took him to an animal hospital, but the infection had already spread to his ear and eye. He eventually recovered, but he lost the eye, and still has trouble hearing. When I met him, he was living with two other pigs and seemed to be doing very well physically, but was having trouble socially because of his size and disability. They decided that the best thing would be for him to be adopted out so that he wouldn't be picked on by other pigs.

Petunia was born with a hernia, and was also significantly smaller than her brothers and sisters. The farmer decided to "donate" her to Cornell's veterinary program so that they could use her to teach the students about hernia surgery. Luckily, Farm Sanctuary has a good relationship with Cornell because they take so many animals there. So Cornell told Farm Sanctuary about Petunia, and said that they would save her life, as opposed to just using her for practice, as long as Farm Sanctuary took her in and paid for the surgery. When I started my internship, she was living in the office because she was much too small to be out with the other pigs. Everyone at the sanctuary was completely in love with her because she was just so full of energy. She loved people and was constantly jumping around and squeaking, trying to get everyone's attention. Since it was pretty obvious that her growth would be stunted, they though that she too would be better off someplace where she wouldn't have to worry about fighting off larger pigs.

It was shortly before my internship ended that I heard that Riley and Tuni were going to be adopted out, and I had gotten so attached to both of them that I instantly called my dad to talk to him about whether or not we could get a place ready for them in time. He agreed to help me, and I went to talk to the director about it. She told me that I was the first intern who had ever adopted one of the animals, other than a few cats over the years. I went back home for a couple of months so that my dad and I could build a barn and fence off an acre of land for them. Then Farm Sanctuary sent two guys with a huge trailer to bring them to West Virginia.

So that's the story of Riley and Tuni, and how they came to live with me. They are both in very good health these days and, aside from fighting over food, they seem to be pretty happy together most of the time.
That's Riley in the front, and Tuni's ear sticking up behind him.

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