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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Story: Ohio Pig Rescue

The story of how far pig people and animal lover's alike will go to rescue a pig. By Lana Hollenback

I have done lots of rescues for pigs. Mostly pigs that are dumped by their owners for lots of different reasons. Some from Animal Control where they are found after being turned loose by their owners. But this spring I had the wonderful opportunity to do a rescue in Ohio.

I left Florida on June 1 with my mom, three prairie dogs, one ten yr old pig, one five yr old female from our animal control and another one from Panama City animal control plus three babies from Noah’s Ark in New Port Richie Florida. What a trip it was.

I had received a phone call about a month prior to the trip stating that close to my hometown in Ohio was a potbellied pig that had been dumped out on a farm. I asked for the phone number and called the farmers. I ask if we could have permission to try and get someone to come rescue him.

I searched through the Internet for someone in the area and made several phone calls but no one was available to go and try to get him. I stayed in contact with the farmer over that month and told him that I was coming that way and if all else failed, I’d try to get him when I got there.

I tried desperately to find someone with a dart gun and darts. I call every vet in Pickaway County that I could find on the Internet and also in Amanda in Fairfield County. If I found the gun, I couldn’t get the darts since no one knew me. I was getting close to leaving and finally I posted to the TLC all animal rescue list of my problem. And here is where the story began to unfold and the rescue started coming together.

A very special lady named Ann Curry from Oxford Ohio whose email address was IGIVEHIMGLORY@aol.com, responded that she might know someone who could help and sent me the address of Janet Ambose who lived in Pomeroy Ohio and worked in animal rescue but not pet pigs. I called Janet who immediately asked just what I needed and said she thought her vet would work with her on it.

She stated she would be glad to meet me there and help when I explained that I would have a truck and carrier but that I had bad knees and couldn’t walk, let alone run to get this pig which by now had been running wild for three or four months and was totally wild. It meant a three-hour drive for her to come from Meigs County Ohio. She called later to say she had the dart gun, medicine and darts and we gave her directions to Bob and Dixie Winters farm on route 188 right outside of Amanda Ohio.

A pig rescue gal from Toledo also said she could come help but couldn’t on that day. She did say that if we failed to capture him, she could bring in a team of people from Toledo area to help. I made several calls to Bob and Dixie fine tuning the rescue and also Bonnie Tipton and Ron Crosby agreed to go along and help from Ashville Ohio. Neither of these people are pet pig owners but do love animals and so agreed to help.

Now I delivered the 10-year-old Salami to Mike and Leigh Anthony in Chatworth GA on the way to Ohio. I then delivered Ms Catherine from Panama City Animal Control to Jim and Tamara Schweitzer at Safe Harboar Pig Rescue and Sanctuary in KY and made arrangements for her to meet up with me in Hamilton, Ohio to collect the boar to take to the vet for neutering and taming.

After leaving there we ventured onto Hamilton where we met Chuck and Deanna Moon-Hennon who run a small animal rescue on their farm. They offered to keep my traveling pigs while I took my mom to her sisters and so I could visit for the night.

I returned the following morning and they reloaded our pigs and off we went to Groveport, Ohio where I spent the night and then picked up Bonnie Tipton and made the final delivery of pigs to Napoleon, Ohio where Charlie found a forever home and where Dana and Bob came from IN to pick up two of the babies and Matt and his family drove down from Ann Harbor, MI to pick up their newly adopted piglet. We also delivered the three prairie dogs to the gal who drove down and met us at Daine’s place. So six pigs found wonderful forever homes. Then I went back to Ashville to finalize the capturing of the boar running wild.

On Saturday, June 9th I got up early and readied the carrier with blankets to protect him once he was darted. Then off I went to meet up with the rescue team at the Winter’s farm. I arrived first and met Bob and he stated the pig was in the field with his cows but didn’t know how long he would hang around. So I waited and waited. Soon I was joined by Bonnie and Ron, but Janet was really one full hour late due to a detour.

I was frantic, fearful the boar would wonder off. Soon Janet arrived and handed me a box with the Tealazol and darts. Yikes, my vet always fills them and puts them together for me. Not so this time. I had never seen a dart before that was not put together. None of us knew how to put one together or how to get the Tealazol in it. But with the farmer threatening to get his own gun, I knew we were the only chance this pig had of having a life.

So we called the vet who referred us to a manual with a diagram on how to put them together. Even Bob Winters jumped in to help with his tools. Soon the dart was loaded and it was time to go and find the boar.

When we got to the field, he was no where to be seen. Dixie came out with binoculars and we began the search. Soon they found him napping in an old hay stack and out he came on the run. People had invaded his territory. He moved out through the pasture at a very determined gate with his tail straight in the air. He was a pig with a purpose and that was to get out of harms way. Little could he understand that we only wanted to save him.

He tried to make it to the woods, but Bob and Ron headed him off and turned him around always being careful not to cause him to break into a fast run. We wanted him relatively calm so the sedation would work better. Soon he headed for the cows which just didn’t like his loving ways and they began to head butt him. I was afraid of them breaking his back, but this did slow him down so that Bob could get off a clear shot right into the ham.

Five minutes later he was down for the count. I hurried to pull the truck into the next corn field to get as close as possible with the carrier. The rain had not helped in that the fields were really wet. Bob and Ron drug him to the fence and Bob held the hot wires up while we passed him through and into the carrier. He was beautiful and weighed about 80#. Hooves were in good shape. I was very fearful of having overdosed him and also of the heat. Janet found a small blanket and we wet it down and laid over him.

Dixie told Bonnie that although an avid animal lover, she just didn’t see anything beautiful about this pig. I thought he was just beautiful and said so. I scratched and rubbed on him a little while he slept knowing he wouldn’t allow it once he was awake. Then I thanked the team of people who helped. I really appreciated all of them since they were not pet pig people and had gone out of their way to help. I didn’t want to move him far until he was awake and so drove the 15 minutes back to Phil and Janet Karchnick’s place to await him waking up.

It didn’t take long and he was thrashing about coming out of the Tealazol. I cried and wished I could just hold him so he wouldn’t hurt himself. Soon he made the attempt to stand and Janet and I, in a different vehicle, started our trip to Hamilton. She was going on to Cincinnati and would follow me a ways in case I needed help.

I drove to Lebanon where I had to stop for gas. When I got out of the truck and walk back to pump the gas and he saw me, he went crazy knocking the carrier door plum off. I grabbed it and put on a bungee cord, got my gas and headed onto the Moon-Hennon farm where I was to meet up with Tamara from Safe Harboar.

While on the way Tamara called and said she had a sick pig and couldn’t possibly come there until the following day. When I arrived at the farm, I realized he was way to wild to just turn lose into a pen. He would get away. Chuck put on several other bungie cords to help hold him in while Deanna covered the carrier with the hopes that if he couldn’t see us, he would settle down some. It worked and then I called Tamara back explaining the problem.

She agreed that if I’d return to KY she would meet me in Sparta, KY with a horse trailer and take him back with her. So I was off again to KY. I was really worried of him breaking out but he seemed to settle down when the truck was moving.

We arrived at about the same time. Tamara said she’d just back up to my truck and turn him lose in her trailer. I laughed and said she better first look at how wild he was. We then decided the best thing to do was move the whole carrier into her horse trailer and leave it. Once we moved it into the trailer and brought up the door, she preceded to climb over and release the carrier door so he could come out in the hay. Wham, he was lose and took a flying leap at the back door where I was standing. Talk about “BOAR BREATH”; it would knock you over.

We blocked the door and went in for a cold soda before we both started our journey home. One of the things I worried about was my truck as the engine light had come on before starting my journey to get the boar and I had no idea what was wrong. But when it comes to saving a pig, you do what you have to do. I took it in the following day and it was a speed sensor to my transmission and they were able to fix it without any problems.

Today our Ohio boar has been named Little Richard and is safely residing at Safe Harboar Pig Rescue and Sanctuary in Frankfort, KY. He is no longer a boar as he has made his trip to the vet and that problem was corrected. He is now a barrow. It will take time for him to calm down, but is doing well.

Many thanks go to the people who helped with this rescue. They are: Ann Curry from Oxford, Ohio; Janet Ambrose who drove more than 3 hrs from Meigs County and her vet, Dr. David, Bonnie Tipton and Ron Crosby from Ashville, Oh, Bob and Dixie Winters who allowed us to rescue him from their farm on State Route 188 in Fairfield County, Ohio, and Jim and Tamara Schweitzer of Safe Harboar in Frankfort, KY.

Because of all their generosity, he now is living a very safe and happy life. Dixie couldn’t believe that people would travel so far just to rescue a pig. Now she knows how much we care about them and not just us pet pig owners, but animal lovers from every where that came to help. To them, “Little Richard” will be eternally grateful as I am also.

Tamara Schweitzer, Director
Safe Harboar Farm Potbelly Pig Rescue & Sanctuary