A piglet named Willow with a very special story has taken up permanent residence at Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary in Norton, Massachusetts. Willow joins the ranks of a handful of special pigs who have beaten the odds and escaped from the factory farming system to find their way to an animal sanctuary. According to sanctuary owner Debra White, “Willow is one of the lucky ones. She was most likely on her way to life of suffering, crammed into a gestation crate until she was slaughtered, which is where most pigs for human consumption are kept. They are literally born to suffer and then die.” There will be no gestation crate for Willow, however. There will be naps in the sun, games, belly rubs, treats and lots of love. In Debra’s words “Willow will exercise in the fresh air, she will see the sun, and she will be free. These are the least of what every animal deserves.”
Willow’s story began last October when police received calls reporting a piglet on the embankment of Route 495 in Bolton, Massachusetts. The Animal Rescue League of Boston worked with the police to transport the piglet to safety at the ARL facility in Dedham. An anonymous donor offered to fund surgery at the Hospital for Large Animals at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, where Willow was spayed and had the embedded auction tag removed from her ear. The presence of the tag was the basis for the assumption that she was bound for the slaughterhouse, where pigs as young as six months are killed, or to a factory farm where she would be placed in a gestation crate.
Willow returned to the ARL after surgery where she developed a reputation for being a typical pig. According to staff member Ashely Arseneau, “She enjoys hanging around people, belly rubs, and scratches. She can be a bit of a food hound. She will beg for food and gets very excited over it. She will squeal very loudly during feeding time!” The search for a permanent placement included networking with local zoos, animal welfare organizations and farms but all were either full, did not take pigs or didn’t have room. Willow is a Yorkshire pig, known for their docile temperament but capable of growing to 800 pounds or larger. It is important that all pigs have room to graze, wallow and exercise and the bigger the pig the more room needed.
The anonymous donor who funded Willow’s surgery suggested contacting Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary’s president Debra White, who agreed to take Willow. The donor came through again as Willow’s hero, funding a beautiful shelter and enclosure for her at Winslow Farm. On February 1, 2013 Willow moved in and immediately showed her approval of her new accommodations by engaging in enthusiastic rooting and playing. According to Debra, Willow will live out her life at the sanctuary, surrounded by over 200 other rescued animals including pigs, sheep, goats, horses, llamas, alpacas, dogs, cats, birds, bunnies and more.
Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary is a non profit “stay for life” animal sanctuary founded in 1996 by Debra White, established for the rescue and care of abused and abandoned animals as well as animal-related education. Visitors to Winslow Farm can enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary as well as it’s many amenities including nature trails, a full playground, campfire, perennial garden, and on-site eatery. Winslow Farm offers year round fundraising and educational events detailed on their website and donations to Winslow Farm are tax-deductible according to IRS regulations.