From Solitude to Sanctuary: Missy Pig Finds Her Place

Missy pig at Farm Sanctuary

From Solitude to Sanctuary: Missy Pig Finds Her Place

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Missy pig, born on Halloween, had a grim and haunting start to life.

She spent her days alone in a solitary pen—a nightmare for pigs, who are social beings and grow distressed without friends, enough space, and stimulation. People didn’t pay much attention to her, either. Now we know that Missy is a friendly and affectionate pig who enjoys attention (and deep belly rubs); however, the farmers who owned her didn’t see her as a friend but as a means of production.

Missy was bought for breeding: Any piglets she might have would be slaughtered for meat. Missy may not have known about this plan, but she knew she didn’t like being penned up and ignored. So, she broke free at every chance she had—to her delight and to her owners’ aggravation.

Instead of giving Missy more enrichment and attention, they thought she was a nuisance and decided to send the rogue pig to slaughter.

Missy pig at Farm Sanctuary


  • Missy comes to Farm Sanctuary.

  • Missy moves in with Mouse and Pickles.

The beginning of hope

Missy had an ally, though: A sympathetic neighbor liked Missy and asked the farmers to reconsider. They agreed to let Missy live if someone could take her off their hands. The neighbor asked Farm Sanctuary for help with placement and later took temporary custody of Missy when she continued breaking out of her home.

We were at capacity for pigs at the time, so we appealed to our Farm Animal Adoption Network. It’s hard to place adult pigs because of their size, healthcare needs, and temperament. A month went by. There were a few prospective adoptive candidates—but nothing solid. Without a safe place to land, Missy’s life would be in danger again soon.

Pig guardianship is hard

Missy’s foster family had good intentions, but they didn’t have the right fencing and space for pigs. When Missy broke free of their enclosure too, they worried they’d be liable for any damage she might cause. Bored pigs are destructive pigs—she might dig through a neighbor’s property. Loose pigs are also vulnerable to traffic. The only safe place to keep her was a small barn stall—but Missy was unhappy and her guardians couldn’t keep up with her needs.

Pigs are intelligent, sentient individuals who experience extreme distress when they’re prevented from exhibiting their natural curiosity. In confinement, they develop negative coping mechanisms like chewing rocks, other pigs’ tails, or the bars of their cages. They may grow so depressed that they stop eating and lose the will to live.

Missy’s guardians grew concerned and once again, reached out to us. Missy just couldn’t stay there anymore; the arrangement wasn’t working for either of them. But if they couldn’t find a better home for her soon, they too felt they had no choice but to send Missy to slaughter—and likely by week’s end.

We couldn’t let that happen.

Play is a very important part of pig behavior.

Acting fast, making space

Our Shelter and Facilities teams worked fast, moving animals around to free up space. They scrubbed and strawed down a newly vacant barn. And then they made the 25-mile drive to pick up Missy and bring her back to Farm Sanctuary.

We weren’t sure, at first, how long Missy would stay. If another adoptive home came through, we might consider external placement. (Our adoption network helps us rescue and place more animals in need, so we can respond next time someone needs our help.) But all that mattered, for now, was that Missy was safe. We’d figure out the rest of the details later.

MIssy pig relaxes in the straw at Farm Sanctuary

Missy settles in

Arriving at Sanctuary

It was clear, from the start, that Missy knew she was home. She greeted Sanctuary staff with happy grunts and rolled over for belly rubs as soon as we approached! We were just as smitten with our new friend and couldn’t wait to find a place where she would thrive. Seeing she already fit in with us so well, we decided to make Missy a permanent Farm Sanctuary resident.

Before we could join her with other pigs, Missy had to pass a few diagnostic tests. (All incoming animals go through quarantine to ensure they’re healthy enough to live with others. We also treat any conditions that they have upon arrival.) Missy’s front legs were sore and she had trouble walking—we believe this was caused, in part, by lacking proper space to walk at her former homes. (Though she was barely two years old at the time, her veterinarians thought she was so much older because Missy moved like she had arthritis.) With pain medication, she got back on her feet.

Missy also needed time to heal from spay surgery: a routine procedure that helps prevent reproductive cancers in female pigs. She was no longer a “breeding sow,” forced to birth (and lose) piglets’ for another’s profit. Now, her life was all her own—and this would help her get a healthy start.

Missy pig at Farm Sanctuary

The search for new friends

As Missy recovered, our Shelter team put a lot of thought into which pig group she might like best. Pigs can be very territorial, and introductions may be fraught with fights for dominance. As Missy is equally sweet and sassy, we didn’t want to place her with anyone too rough—especially as her legs healed. Her best fit would include pigs she could snuggle and a place at the top of the pig hierarchy.

We knew just the pair.

Mouse and Pickles

Mouse and Pickles have been partnered for years. The elder Mouse is a gentle soul who is kind, easygoing, and enjoys affection. He also walks on three legs and has some trouble balancing, so he needs to live with others who won’t push him around.

Pickles is the opposite of gentle—with humans. She has a temper and a reputation for biting, just because. But she has a soft side for her true love, Mouse, and has been a loyal and tender companion through the years. Mouse is happy and healthy for now—but if his health were to decline, we wouldn’t want Pickles to be alone. We hoped Missy might be a good match for them both.

Mouse pig at Farm Sanctuary


Pickles pig at Farm Sanctuary


Life as a new trio

While Missy is younger than Pickles and Mouse, she’s now the top pig of the group. Missy is a firm but fair ruler, putting Pickles in her place with a warning grunt or snap when she’s being too rowdy. But she’s also a good adventure buddy for Pickles and a sweetheart with Mouse when they all snuggle together. She still loves attention and belly rubs from people and often greets us at the fence with happy grunts and what feels like a smile.

Last Halloween, the group enjoyed a triple celebration: Along with the holiday, it was Missy’s second birthday and a day before Pickles’ fifth rescue anniversary. The friends munched on pumpkins—a favorite fall snack—and got extra belly rubs from their doting caregivers. Missy’s life, which had such a tricky start, is now such a treat.

Missy pig eats a pumpkin at Farm Sanctuary
Connie sheep at Farm Sanctuary

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