With Valentine’s Day approaching, love is certainly on a lot of people’s minds … and those of us working here at Farm Sanctuary are no exception. In fact, surrounded by hundreds of affectionate rescued farm animals who have lots of it to share, we’d be hard pressed not to have our hearts melt a little each day. But perhaps nothing conjures the “warm and fuzzies” any time of year quite like a rescue story, so it is with great delight that I introduce you to our newest little sweetheart, baby Petunia.
Born on a farm in upstate New York, Petunia was the runt of her litter. For most piglets bred for production, this is a death sentence, as hardly any farmer wants or is able to take the time to bottle-feed a piglet who isn’t thriving day and night. As a result, many are left to languish or are often killed in brutal ways. But in Petunia’s case, she was donated to a veterinary teaching hospital so that students there could perform a practice surgery on the umbilical hernia with which she was born.
Sadly, animals used as teaching tools don’t fare much better than runts: they too are often disposed of or killed after enduring invasive procedures and the stresses of surgery preparation – as was to be the fate of Johnny and friends – residents at our California Shelter who faced slaughter after being used for hernia surgeries, but were saved at the final hour by a compassionate student who called us for help.
Fortunately, a call for help came for Petunia too. After receiving the piglet, doctors at the hospital reached out to us to see if we would be willing to give the tiny piglet a home, and we couldn’t pass up on the chance to take her in. She did need a surgery right away, however, to repair the hernia, which for her was riskier because she was so small. And, our worst fears realized, the situation proved to be very touch and go as her heart stopped during the procedure. Luckily, she was quickly revived and pulled through despite the fact she had also aspirated fluid into her lungs, causing pneumonia. But Petunia proved to be very strong and beat the odds to survive.
When Petunia arrived at our New York Shelter a few days later, she only weighed about 4-pounds and could literally fit into one hand. But what she lacks in size, she sure makes up for with her incredible spirit – nothing, and I mean nothing, can keep this dynamic piglet down! Settled inside a comfy pen with a heat lamp, blankets and pillows right near our caregiver offices in the shelter hospital so we could keep a close eye on her and attend to her many bottle feedings ‘round the clock, this cheerful baby immediately began stealing the hearts of everyone who dropped by to snuggle and play with her. While she is not out of the woods yet, and has since had a repeat trip back to the hospital for further treatments and assessment for more surgery, we are hopeful that she will fully recover soon.
Little Petunia snuggling with her plush raccoon.
There is nothing quite like the unconditional and carefree love that little Petunia, and all babies like her, have to share with anyone who is receptive to receiving it. To think that this sweet girl who takes such pleasure in all the simple joys of life almost didn’t have the chance to shine so brightly is heartbreaking … but by saving each one we can, and telling their stories, we are showing the world, little by little, that there is another way – just like the veterinarians did the day they decided to save Petunia’s life rather than let her slip away. So, on behalf of Petunia and everyone else here at Farm Sanctuary, we want to thank all of you out there who are sharing your compassion and love with farm animals every day, and wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day!