Rescue Story

Meet Lizzie and Robbie — Pigs Rescued From Cruelty, Now Inspiring Kindness

Robbie pig at Farm SAnctuary

Rescue Story

Meet Lizzie and Robbie — Pigs Rescued From Cruelty, Now Inspiring Kindness

Who are pigs?

To learn more about pig sentience, intelligence, and emotion, download Farm Sanctuary’s white paper, “Thinking Pigs: Cognition, Emotion, and Personality. An Exploration of the Cognitive Complexity of Sus Domesticus, the Domestic Pig.

It’s Lizzie and Robbie’s first fall at Farm Sanctuary.

Like many youngsters, these year-old pigs are celebrating the season — kicking through crunchy piles of leaves, exploring the vibrant-hued woods near their home, and munching on pumpkins and other fall treats. They’re an active, charming pair who love playing with friends and approaching people for extra snacks and attention.

They’re also survivors — so their joy for life is even more evident considering what they almost lost.

Robbie and Lizzie pigs at Farm Sanctuary

Robbie (front) and Lizzie root through their pasture

What came before

Last fall, authorities removed 44 animals, including Lizzie, Robbie, and a third pig, Marshall Dillon, from a cruelty situation in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The animals were malnourished and lacked proper food, water, shelter, and care. Rescuers brought some animals to a local humane society and others, including the three pigs, to the Finger Lakes SPCA (FLSPCA).

There, the trio grew from scrawny, sickly piglets into lively young adults. Throughout this time, staff at the FLSPCA searched earnestly to find the pigs a new home, as their facilities are not equipped to house adult farm-breed pigs long-term. The process took several months, as there are several barriers to finding pigs safe, appropriate homes.

The basics of pig care

Pigs are intelligent, social creatures who need proper space and enrichment to thrive. At Farm Sanctuary, our rescued pigs spend hours each day roaming their pastures, overturning clumps of earth with their snouts, and rooting around for plants and other tasty treats to eat. When they’re not out exploring, they enjoy lounging in mud puddles and nesting under layers of straw in their barns.

But not everyone has the space — or patience — to accommodate pigs’ need for adventure. Pigs may over-dig their pastures or break through fencing if they need more stimulation. Some people send pigs to slaughter because they can’t contain them on their land. Others worry rogue pigs might get hit by traffic or present other liabilities.

Food and care costs are also high because of pigs’ size and some resulting health conditions. We see a lot of hoof infections and skeletal issues because of how they’re raised in industry settings.

Commercial pigs are bred and fed to grow excessively — reaching up to 240 pounds within seven months when producers slaughter them for meat. Our rescued pigs are on portioned diets to help them stay at a healthy weight and prevent additional strain on already strained bodies. Many live up to 10 years or more because of this quality, specialized care.

Sadly, there are also times when the best we can do is help friends like Marshall Dillon live their final days in peace.


  • Rescuers remove Lizzie, Robbie, and dozens of other animals from cruelty.

  • Lizzie, Robbie, and Marshall Dillon arrive at Farm Sanctuary.

  • Marshall Dillon passes away.

  • Rick comes to Farm Sanctuary

  • Lizzie and Robbie join their new herd.

The trio's arrival

In July, the FLSPCA asked if we could bring Marshall Dillon and his friends to Farm Sanctuary. Their need for placement had become more urgent, and as we had space at our New York shelter, we were able to welcome them into our care.

The pigs settled into a quarantine space, where we monitored their incoming health conditions. This is standard practice at Farm Sanctuary to ensure that sick animals get the care they need and prevent spreading any illness to our other residents.

While Lizzie and Robbie were bright upon arrival, Marshall Dillon was subdued and didn’t have as much interest in food. Veterinarians examined Marshall Dillon and suspected he was stressed from the trip, so we gave him supportive care and space to rest. Unfortunately, his condition worsened — he developed a fever, started breathing heavier, and continued rejecting food.

We decided to bring Marshall Dillon to Cornell University for additional supportive care. Though concerned that the trip might exacerbate his symptoms, we agreed the risks of staying home outweighed the risks of travel. Sadly, Marshall Dillon passed away during transit. Later examinations revealed an entrapment and rupture of part of his intestine,which may have stemmed from trauma when he was younger. Though we tried our best, there was nothing else we could have done to save his life.

Marshall Dillon spent two days at Farm Sanctuary. We are heartbroken by his unexpected loss and wish we’d had more time together. However, we’re also grateful that he knew care and kindness from the FLSPCA and our caregiving team — compared to how his life began and how it ends for 124 million pigs slaughtered for meat in the U.S. each year. We honor his legacy by saying his name, sharing his story, and continuing our lifesaving work to help others, like his friends Lizzie and Robbie, enjoy life on their terms.


understand and respond to the emotions of other pigs.

New friends, new adventures

Pigs are sensitive individuals who form strong bonds with their loved ones. Some grow so depressed after a partner’s death that they may stop eating or getting out of bed. And, like people, they may also die from broken hearts.

For this reason, we prefer housing pigs in larger groups so they aren’t alone after a loved one’s passing. And, as pigs are intelligent, social beings, having others to play with keeps their minds and bodies sharp.

After Lizzie and Robbie’s quarantine, we joined the pair with three other pigs: Missy, Pickles, and Rick. Missy and Pickles used to live with another friend, Mouse, who passed away in May. We welcomed Rick, a former stray, to Farm Sanctuary in August.

Rick pig at Farm Sanctuary


However, pigs are hard to integrate, as many fight for dominance during introductions. These five have big personalities, too. While Lizzie and Robbie are sweet with people, they can also be pushy and nip at each other to keep them from “hogging” the attention of visitors. Pickles has a history of biting, and Missy, the top pig in their hierarchy, has been the only one to reprimand her for this. Meanwhile, Rick — found pestering a pig at another home while he was still a stray — is a curious pig. He loves exploring his surroundings but is still learning boundaries during social interactions.

If the new group didn’t work, we could always try the bonded pairs and Rick with other pigs — we have several herds across the sanctuary because pigs are choosy about whom they befriend. At first, Lizzie and Robbie, the most docile of the group, shied away from the barn when the top pigs were inside. While the top pigs of the herd can be bossy, no one is mean, and the five are all finding their place in their new herd.

A fun surprise? The budding friendship between Pickles and Rick, who enjoy exploring the woods together and were even late to breakfast after one day’s adventure!

Seeing pigs as someone, not something

Lizzie and Robbie have quickly charmed our staff and visitors alike. They are funny and sweet, often approaching us with joyful grunts in hopes of procuring treats. It is our joy and honor to see them as they are — as individuals worthy of care and love. As living beings with the right to live.

Help us advocate for pigs!

Farm Sanctuary is involved in several litigation efforts to protect pigs still exploited in animal agriculture: Farm Sanctuary v. Vilsack, our petition to ban the slaughter of downed pigs; Farm Sanctuary v. USDA, our lawsuit challenging the USDA’s decision to reduce the number of federal inspectors at slaughterhouses; and upholding California’s Proposition 12 — which bans the confinement of pigs in gestation crates, hens in battery cages, and calves in veal crates — a law whose fate now lies with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here are some ways you can help these efforts!

Sign our petition asking President Biden to publicly support California’s Proposition 12

Send a message to USDA Secretary Vilsack to ban the slaughter of downed pigs

Connie sheep at Farm Sanctuary

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