Rescue Story

Jenny Pig: Abandoned in a Pet Crate, Now Part of a Family

Jenny pig at Farm Sanctuary

Rescue Story

Jenny Pig: Abandoned in a Pet Crate, Now Part of a Family

Jenny pressed her snout against the walls of the crate, choking through the blazing heat for a breath of fresh air.

She should have spent this kind of day rolling through the cooling mud, coating each outstretched limb with nature’s sunscreen. But her throat was dry; her cramped legs ached. And nobody knew the little pig needed help.

Cars whirred past. Few acknowledged the abandoned pet carrier, left at the roadside like old, abandoned furniture. Then, someone stopped. The driver, a cat rescuer, was always on the lookout for strays in need—and for sturdy cat carriers. She was surprised to find the small box already had her next rescue inside.

Not one to turn away an animal in need—although pig rescue wasn’t quite her forte—the driver scooped up Jenny and brought her to a friend’s home to care for her there. In the months that followed, they tended to Jenny’s needs together.

Jenny pig at Farm Sanctuary


  • Jenny comes to Farm Sanctuary.

  • Jenny moves in with the main pig herd.

  • Jenny starts to withdraw from the group, so we give her some space apart.

  • We try reintroducing Jenny to the herd, but she remains uninterested.

  • Jenny has her spay surgery.

  • Jenny joins her new herd and starts seeking out new friendships.

Caring for a growing pig

As Jenny got bigger, her needs grew as well. The friends started struggling to afford enough food and to provide space for Jenny to live and roam around.

Pigs are natural explorers. They love rooting outdoors, overturning fresh earth with their snouts, and digging up treats below the surface. They also need cozy spots to rest from their adventures. But a bored pig is a destructive pig, and without proper enrichment, they might endanger themselves or others.

All in all, it’s only natural that Jenny began breaking out of her enclosure in search of more excitement. Jenny’s space faced the main road, and her adventures brought a few near brushes with traffic. Her guardians worried for her safety but couldn’t do much to help fortify her enclosure or offer the individualized care she needed. And funds for Jenny’s care remained tight.

Jenny pig sits in the barn

Play is a very important part of pig behavior. They’ll play with toys and and run and leap around with excited bursts of energy.

A relative had a solution: It was time to send the yearling pig to slaughter. He thought Jenny was a burden and argued that they could make some much-needed money from her sale.

Jenny’s guardians refused. They loved her–– and they’d worked so hard to keep her safe and well! They weren’t about to stop now.

But they were still concerned that something terrible might happen if they didn’t act fast. The rescuers wanted Jenny to have a life that aligned with their compassionate values. One where she’d have expert care and treatment as an individual—not slaughtered for food.

And they asked us for help.

Coming home

We place all incoming animals on quarantine until diagnostic tests reveal that they’re healthy enough to live with others.

Once she was in the clear, Jenny’s first temporary living space was in our Wisconsin Barn (it’s at our New York shelter but named after a long-ago rescue in that state). While most animals live among their own species, this barn houses a motley crew of those who are happier in a mixed group. (Isaac steer, for example, can be afraid of larger cows and has always been calmer around his beloved goats.)

Jenny greeted her neighbors—goats, sheep, cows, and alpacas—with curious, happy grunts. It’s a pig’s way of saying, “Nice to meet you!” Some, like Pippi cow, were a bit startled by their first pig sighting. But we can’t blame Jenny for coming on strong: After spending so much time on her own, she finally had some new friends in her midst!

After that, we tried her in with our main pig herd. It didn’t go as we had hoped.

Jenny pig at Farm Sanctuary

Finding her family

We have eight distinct herds at our Watkins Glen shelter because certain pigs just don’t get along. They can be extremely territorial—some will fight to establish hierarchy; others might withdraw from intimidation. Jenny did the latter.

Though Jenny loves being around people, she wasn’t used to interacting with other pigs. She began to distance herself from her new group—even opting to stay out in the cold than join the others in their barn.

To help ease the transition, we moved Jenny to an adjacent space where she could see the herd but still have her own sleeping and outdoor spaces. She could come and go without further apprehension. But when we tried reintroduction after some time had passed, Jenny still seemed to have trouble fitting in.

So we followed Jenny’s lead and came up with a new plan.

Vets are learning more about pig long-term care by helping the animals at Farm Sanctuary.

What Sanctuary means

Sanctuary is more than a place—it’s also a feeling. An animal’s social and emotional wellbeing is just as important as their physical health. One simply cannot exist without the other. And Jenny would need to feel safe to thrive.

We moved Jenny back to her private suite. It was a timely transition anyway, as she had an upcoming spay appointment and would need a little time on her own to heal. This routine procedure can prevent reproductive cancer, which is otherwise common in pigs as they age. (It’s also relatively new in the veterinary world, as pigs raised for pork don’t live long enough to develop these diseases. Vets are learning more about pig long-term care by helping the animals at Farm Sanctuary.)

Once Jenny recovered, we decided to try her with a more mild-mannered group. Her entire demeanor changed from a timid independent to a dominant social butterfly! (The other pigs, at first, kept away from Jenny because she can be a bit pushy for attention.) She’s still finding her place, though we’ve seen her snuggling between pals Eric and Jane, and she’s rubbed against Bitsy in affectionate greeting.

Jenny is a friendly, joyful pig who’s now free to live the life that her rescuers envisioned—and which we can help more pigs achieve by letting them live. Learn more about the emotional, intelligent lives of pigs and their beautiful lives at Sanctuary.

Jenny with new friends Eric, Jane, and Bitsy
Connie sheep at Farm Sanctuary

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