It’s one of the biggest pig rescue efforts the country has ever seen, according to Alana Rogers of Pigs Advocates League.
The non-profit and several other animal rescues are working against a deadline to find homes for 458 smaller pigs (50-200 lbs.) before the state of Kentucky seizes the animals and euthanizes them.
This dire situation started innocently enough.
“Several years ago a woman started taking in pigs to help. By early 2016, she had taken in several rescue pigs that were pregnant and the litters began. Miniature pigs are able to breed very early — 8 weeks for males, as early as 12 weeks for females. The fencing was not adequate to keep the males and females separated, and after several years, her few pigs turned into 458,” Rodgers told PEOPLE in an email.
Eventually those pigs started to cause problems — destroying property on neighboring farms — and complaints. Authorities, responding to the complaints, arrived at the Kentucky property and found dozens of pigs roaming free. It is illegal to release a pig into the wild in Kentucky; because of this the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife division stepped in and cited the woman for having more than 100 unconfined pigs and seized all the animals.
Officials from Kentucky Fish & Wildlife contacted a local pig sanctuary, Atti’s Acres, for help with the animals. The sanctuary convinced the authorities to give them the opportunity to place the pigs, currently in state custody, before the animals were euthanized.
Atti’s Acres quickly realized that the task was too big to be done alone, especially when many of the pigs were emaciated and in need of medical care, including maternal aid. Plus, the state has required that all of the animals be microchipped, spayed or neutered, and in possession of a health certificate from the vet before they are adopted out.
Working with their contact, Atti’s Acres formed a dedicated team to save these pigs and give them a second chance.
“With the help of Red Oak Animal Rescue, Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary, Ziggy’s Refuge and Pig Advocates League we have worked to contain the animals in fencing, coordinate volunteers, screen adoption applications, and fundraise for this huge operation,” Rogers said of where things currently stand.
The pig rescue team has until Oct. 14 to find suitable placement for all of the pigs; the animals remaining at that date will be euthanized by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, unless the division decides to extend the deadline.
The good news is that the team has already received numerous adoption offers and donations to help give these animals a new life. Of course, there is still plenty more to be done: The cost of this rescue operation will likely exceed $100,000 and, after the pregnant pigs give birth, there will be 500 pigs to place.
To adopt one of these needy pigs, donate to their care or volunteer your help, visit pigadvocates.com