Rescue Story

From Something to Someone: Valuing Jack, Allan, and Other Pigs at Farm Sanctuary

Allan and Jack pigs walk through the grass at Farm Sanctuary

Allan (left) and Jack pigspo

Rescue Story

From Something to Someone: Valuing Jack, Allan, and Other Pigs at Farm Sanctuary

Allan (left) and Jack pigspo

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.

After “this little piggy went to market,” Jack and his friend Allan went home to Sanctuary.

The boys—a Yorkshire pig and Hampshire/Duroc cross, respectively—were both raised for production purposes. Jack, found wandering near a Rochester, New York farmers’ market, might have belonged to a vendor there or to a nearby farmer or slaughter facility. Meanwhile, Allan’s former guardians—an Ohio family involved in 4-H—bonded with the pig during their time together and couldn’t bear to see him sold and killed: the typical fate for animals raised in this program.

The pigs met at Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester. They’re about the same age—around two years old—and are friendly and rambunctious boys with a bit of an eye for trouble. They’re huge diggers, for one, and came to Farm Sanctuary after damaging the fencing at their former home. They can also be nippy when looking for attention—talk about those “terrible twos!”

Mischievous behaviors aside, these are signs of social and problem-solving skills which likely helped the boys survive.

Jack pig at Farm Sanctuary

Jack looks cheekily at the camera.


  • Jack and Allan arrive at Farm Sanctuary.

  • The boys move to a barn neighboring other pigs to help them adjust.

  • Jack and Allan join their new herd.

Thinking, feeling pigs

Pigs are social, sentient, and intelligent. Research confirms that they have strong long-term memories, anticipate future events based on past experiences, show creativity in play, and excel at navigating mazes and performing other spatial tasks. They also have unique personalities, live in complex social communities, experience empathy, and recognize when they have the agency to change their environment.

This can range from digging to alleviate boredom, to finding an escape route from a sticky situation.

“I’ve heard that pigs are smarter than three-year-old children,” shares Animal Care Manager Brooke M., “but this fact didn’t mean very much to me until I had my own child, who is two and already knows so many concepts and language skills. When I could put into context how smart a three-year-old child actually is, it opened my eyes to how smart pigs truly are.”

Caregiver Jesielle H. agrees. “People think you can just give animals basic things like food, water, and shelter and they’ll be okay. But with pigs especially, it’s really clear that they need so much more. They need to be with those they love; they need a variety of treats that they like; they need a space they can explore and that provides new experiences for them. Basically, all the things that humans need to not just live, but to have a good life.”


develop through play! They use objects as toys, wrestle with each other, and leap with excited bursts of energy.

The importance of Sanctuary

Without rescue and sanctuary, Jack and Allan would have joined the 124 million pigs slaughtered for meat in the United States each year. There are lives and personalities behind these statistics: Each was an individual with likes and dislikes, desires and fears. No matter how they were raised—whether on factory farms, like Jack, or from handlers like Allan’s striving for humane treatment—they were all killed against their will. And there’s nothing humane about that.

Instead, the boys now live in our main pig herd. Once shy and withdrawn around the older, larger pigs, they are settling in and finding their place. Allan, the more outgoing of the two, has been moving his way up the pig hierarchy—some are now timid around him and let him claim the troughs and sleeping spaces he prefers. Jack is more reserved, but still enjoys the benefits of being a top pig because he’s Allan’s best pal.

Allan pig rests in a mud puddle at Farm Sanctuary

Allan lounges in a favorite mud puddle.

There is so much to one single pig. He or she is loving and loves to be loved and wants to live a life without fear.

Animal Care Manager Brooke M.

They remain the best of friends and do everything together—from sleeping side by side in the barn, to exploring the pasture when the weather is nice. They’re always first in line for food in the morning, and still seek people out for attention and scratches when we’re in the barn.

Sanctuary is a place of hope and healing for these survivors, and for animals still exploited by our modern food system. By sharing the lives and personalities of our rescued residents, we hope that people will begin to see all farmed animals as individuals, not commodities. If you’ve been charmed by smiley, eager Jack or panda-patterned Allan’s bold leadership, it’s heartbreaking to think of what could have been. And by knowing and loving them, it becomes easier to see other animals as unique beings worthy of life and respect—and not as anonymous cuts of meat.

Jack pig inspects a tree branch at Farm Sanctuary

Jack investigates a leafy tree branch.

Why we love pigs

Still need some convincing that pigs are more than “bacon?” Here’s what our caregiving team has learned from sharing their lives with pigs:

Jack pig walks through the grass at Farm Sanctuary


“When I first came to Farm Sanctuary, I was honestly pretty scared of pigs because of their size and how excited they get for food,” shares Caregiver Grace G. “Over time, I’ve come to really love pigs as curious, thoughtful individuals with such a wide range of personalities. Some of them, like George and Missy, love people and will drop for a belly rub at the softest touch. Others, like Mia, are wary of people due to past experiences and traumas and will watch you closely with a very diligent eye. Pigs are all very unique individuals with different personalities and interests. As a group, they generally form deep friendships, are very curious, and love to explore and play.”

Caregiver Grace with George as a piglet at Farm Sanctuary

Grace with George as a piglet

“Pigs have rich needs and desires,” Brooke adds. “They want comfort, in the way of a muddy bath on a hot day, cuddles in the straw with each other when it’s chilly, and basking in the sunshine. They want stimulation, in the way of exploration and rooting around on the hill. They innately form strong bonds with each other; they make best friends or maybe they choose not to be friends—no different than humans. Despite what they’ve gone through, they open their hearts to those who show compassion. On the other end, it’s clear how much they know fear and can understand and anticipate danger. They fiercely desire to fight for their safety and the safety of their young.”

Caregiver Brooke with Junip and Von D as piglets

Brooke with Junip Sydney and Von D as piglets

“Pigs are a force of strength, intelligence, humor, and love,” agrees Caregiver Assistant Isabella P. “They protect their loved ones with ferocity.”

Mia pig and her children in the woods at Farm Sanctuary

Mia pig stand close to her children as they explore the “Pig Woods.”

Caregiver Assistant Hannah S. and Caregiver Kathryn C. have each been on the receiving end of this compassion.

“One day I was in the pig barn, really upset, and Betty pig was in the barn building herself a bed,” Hannah shares. “She saw me crying and came over and started putting straw over me, the way pigs do for other pigs, tucking them into bed. It was very sweet.”

Betty pig soaks in the mud at Farm Sanctuary

Betty pig enjoys a soak in the mud.

“With pigs, you get the sense that they are very aware of what you’re feeling,” Kathryn adds. “We had a pig named Chuck who would often need help getting up and getting to food—so every morning I would help him, and in turn he helped me. There were other pigs in his group who would sometimes cause trouble, and Chuck would put himself between them and me whenever I was cleaning waters or trying to leave the barn. I had a special friendship with Chuck, but all pigs display this type of intelligence and act with clear purpose.”

Chuck pig eats a pumpkin at Farm Sanctuary

The late Chuck pig, in a photo from 2016, enjoying a pumpkin treat.

“There is so much to one single pig,” Brooke concludes. “To know one is to know your family dog. He or she is complex—nuanced. He or she is loving and loves to be loved and wants to live a life without fear.”

Allan pig rests in a mud puddle at Farm Sanctuary


If you’d like to befriend a pig at Farm Sanctuary, you can plan a visit during our tour season, watch our rescued pigs LIVE at, or sponsor one through our Adopt a Farm Animal program. For other inquiries on pig adoption, check out our Farm Animal Adoption Network.

Connie sheep at Farm Sanctuary

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