Pigs are smart and are often the subject of movies and books, such as Charlotte’s Web and Babe. As a result, children love pigs and most adults know that pigs are more intelligent than dogs. Less known is the emotional and social lives of these gentle creatures. They love to be with other piglets and show distress when separated from their friends. They have been known to recognize up to 30 other pigs and they greet each other affectionately.
Pigs can be quickly taught simple voice commands and even to fetch objects – and they remember the commands for over three years. Contrary to their reputation, pigs are extremely clean and they like cuddles from people. They roll in the mud to keep their sensitive skin from getting sunburned. Pigs naturally root in the ground and love to explore and play.
It is appalling to see pictures and videos of pigs at factory farms, where they are kept in cages so small that they can not even turn around. Mother pigs are forced to feed their piglets through iron bars. They grow up without stimulation and are then sent to slaughter.
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Charlotte and Gus endured unimaginable and brutal circumstances the first two and a half months of their lives. They were taken from their mother along with a group of 11 other piglets and found themselves in the care of a man who owned a petting zoo. This man disposed of them after realizing these piglets had some medical issues.
Rather than seek treatment, he tossed the 13 innocent piglets on a pile of dead animals. He left them to die without food or water, completely exposed to the elements. Fortunately, they were discovered by compassionate humans and were liberated from a truly heinous situation. In poor shape, suffering from extreme dehydration, emaciation and severe sunburn, they were given proper nutrition, medical attention and showered with love. We are very grateful we can provide a forever home to these astonishingly resilient little ones.
Gus and Charlotte are Yorkshire pigs – the most common breed raised for meat in factory farming. They are expected to reach 600 lbs when fully grown! Their diet at Safe Haven consists of vegetables and very high quality low fat pellets to keep them healthy and happy.
Jules, Irene & Virginia
On a cold winter day in December of 2019, a production farmer from upstate NY made a beautiful choice. He had a breeder pig named Jules who was scheduled for slaughter. A girl who worked at the farm fell in love with Jules, and the farmer gave her time to find Jules a new home.
Having just moved, we had room for Jules in one of our barns. We discovered this 400 lb. pig was sweet as could be and loves belly rubs. But we also realized something was terribly wrong. It became clear that Jules was sad. Despite our every effort to provide her with all she could possibly want or need, Jules did not want to eat. Her days were spent pacing the perimeter of her pasture, stopping every few feet to lift her head in the air. She was searching for something. Searching for her sisters. It turned out there were 2 other breeding sows destined for slaughter that Jules lived with her whole life, Irene and Virginia.
Since no other sanctuary could help, we did what most people do when they need help. We asked our friends for support! We turned to our incredible community via social media and email. Thanks to you we were able to raise the funds to make an adequate temporary shelter for the three girls and cover their initial medical exams. We called the farmer, and Jules’ sisters were on their way!
There was an energy at Safe Haven that morning unlike anything we ever experienced. Upon arrival, Virginia and Irene tentatively stepped off the truck and began sniffing the ground of their new home. Once Jules’ gaze landed on them, you could visibly see her spirits lift and her heart swell as she broke into a run across the pasture to greet them. The three sisters were reunited just in time for the holidays and are experiencing their “happily ever after” at Safe Haven.
Gracie Mae is a Vietnamese potbelly pig. She arrived at Safe Haven in July of 2018 and quickly became the sweetheart of the farm. A loving woman adopted this sweet potbelly pig at eight weeks old and they were best friends for 2 years. Sadly, due to a health crisis in the family, the woman was in dire need of finding her precious Gracie a new home.
She notified Safe Haven of her urgent situation and we opened our arms and our hearts to Gracie giving some peace of mind to her adopted mother.
Harry is a mini potbelly pig who was abandoned at Safe Haven one night by his humans. He was initially shy but quickly came out of his shell in response to the love and attention from our staff. He has made himself at home and now enjoys life on the farm. He especially loves to eat grass, take mud baths, and hang out with his chicken friends.
He is quite a vocal boy and we are happy to report Harry displays an abundance of tail wagging.
Leo was born on January 5, 2015. He is a spunky mini potbelly pig who was purchased as a family pet and lived in an apartment Queens. He suffered from separation anxiety when his people left to go to work. His squealing disturbed the neighbors, and due to their complaints, his family had to find him a new home.
At Safe Haven, he is able to live the life of a pig, rooting in the dirt and grass, exploring the pasture and getting lots of belly rubs. He is incredibly smart, friendly and full of personality. His enthusiasm for life is contagious.
Want to learn more about Leo? Bill Crain (Safe Haven co-founder) and Joy Gomez (head caretaker) explain his changing life at Safe Haven in a series of post cards. Click here to view.
Otis is a sweet mini potbelly pig who started his life as a pet in the Bronx. He was abandoned by his owner who fell on hard times. He lived in a cramped crate under a deck for several months. He is a bit shy around newcomers but eventually warms up once he gets to know you.
At Safe Haven, he enjoys exploring the pasture with his friend Leo and loves getting belly rubs from our staff.