Penny is a sweet and very popular pig living at RASTA Sanctuary on Vancouver Island. The unique part of her rescue story is that she perpetrated the event herself …
Two years ago, as a man sped along a busy highway in Saskatchewan, he was amazed to see a small piglet jump through the slats on the side of a truck he was following, into the ditch, and then roll at high speed several times before coming to a stop. Alarmed, the man managed to turn his car around and pick up the injured baby pig. He took her to a Veterinary clinic where she remained for a week, being treated for several injuries.
He then returned for her and brought her to his urban home where he and his wife began to search for a farm where she could live out the rest of her life. These kind people could see how bright and aware she was, having escaped a ride to the slaughterhouse, so they made it their mission to find permanent sanctuary for her.
Unfortunately, such homes are rare. Finally, she was flown to RASTA Farm Animal Sanctuary on Vancouver Island where she will stay for her natural life. She has been living the good life ever since … outdoors all day, shelter when she wants it, plenty of sunshine, water and food and most importantly, lots of love, appreciation and care.
“Princess Penny” as she was formally named, now weighs in at 400 pounds, and is much beloved by everyone who visits RASTA. She responds to familiar voices and has close bonds among the other animals and also with volunteers who love to spend time with her, rub her belly, and just enjoy her inquisitive personality. On hearing a familiar voice, Penny will stop what she’s doing and go off to greet her visitor.
Lucie Cerny, founder of RASTA, theorizes that Penny was loaded onto the slaughterhouse truck by mistake, as pigs are generally allowed to live until they reach about 250 pounds, at roughly six months of age (still so young!) and then are sold for slaughter. Given the very crowded conditions on factory farms, it could be that she just got lost in the crowd and loaded, but for Penny only, that was good news, because her smallness allowed her to escape.
So many factors came together for Penny, beginning with her inspired leap from that doomed truck … There was the kind man in the car. And the veterinary care. And some time in a house with a loving couple caring for her. Then the flight to Vancouver Island. And the safety, and the security, and the love at RASTA.
Penny seems to be a very special animal indeed, and she has created more awareness about the plight of factory-farmed pigs because in actual fact, the sentience and cleverness Penny displays are traits of all pigs. A pig’s intelligence has been proven to be higher than that of most dogs; similar to that of a three-year-old child.
And yet, in our society, pigs go to slaughter while dogs and young children with comparable awareness are loved and protected by law.
Penny has a personality as distinct as any young child. She has preferences, loves, fears and a strong instinctual reaction to a secure or threatening situation. It is likely that Penny could sense the impending doom on that crowded truck and simply opted for fresh air and freedom instead. She was tiny and that’s what saved her life. The other young pigs on the smelly, packed truck could not escape and were probably all dead within 24 hours of Penny’s jump.
Recently, activists entered Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford and documented the horrific conditions common to the industry; pens so small that the pigs can’t even turn around, so they stand in place, able only to take one step forward or back, for months on end (as noted above, they only have a few short months to “live”). The cruelty is blatant, the apathy towards their suffering is rampant, and yet it continues, as the demand for pork has grown steadily over the past fifty years, and farmers stock more and more pigs in smaller and smaller crates and keep them indoors for life. To the industry, these pigs are products for profit and are treated and abused as such – not respected as the aware creatures that we certainly know they are.
After seven hours of occupying Excelsior, many of the activists were openly weeping and permanently scarred at having witnessed the conditions inside the buildings, where thousands of pigs would spend their entire short lives.
Returning to RASTA and seeing Penny’s awareness and happiness brings a heart-wrenching bitterness to the caring and courageous people who occupied Excelsior. These are vegans who dedicate their time to ending the systemic cruelty and to bringing awareness to this horrific hidden system that is destroying our environment along with the physical and – perhaps most importantly – the spiritual health of human beings who quietly allow this to continue.
We as a society are being asked to stop the breeding and torture and killing of these animals; animals just like Penny. And to eat healthier food; not food that carries the vibrations of terror and death.
Penny may have come along to show us what joy we have to gain by helping us to realize that pigs and all animals are simply our friends and companions in this life, here to share it with us – nothing more, and certainly, nothing less.
Victoria Animal News