A Day's Voyage Towards Freedom
We have become slightly more aggressive in our approach to getting the stranded pigs off the levee in Iowa at the point. Not aggressive in the sense that health of the animals are being compromised, but in the sense that we are investing much more energy into physically hiking in, locating the pigs and walking them out.
The health of some, the deteriorating health of others and the inclement weather has assisted us in making the decision to pull these animal off the levee ASAP, rather than walking them from one shelter to the next, day by day hoping they will eventually make it to the end of the 20+mile levee.
We have a veterinarian working with us continuously through the day who is available to advise on which animals are in the best condition for a more aggressive move and which other animals need to be lifted into crates and driven off with the assistance of are ever-handy Polaris (a hybrid between an ATV and a golf cart).
My team was lucky enough to find animals willing and persistent enough to walk 3+ miles to the end of the levee yesterday. We found them snuggled up together, close to the river's edge, cooling down as best they could. We approached them, conducted the overall physical examination and approached even more. They immediately popped up and started walking the river's edge. If we could speak in pig language, I think they would have said, "finally, now let's get moving".
They literally walked themselves off as we followed. We all stopped for a mud bath and shade break mid way through, then followed their lead again as they marched further down the levee. Our only complication came when we arrived back at base and no one was available to shuffle the three into Farm Sanctuary's transport trailer. All other teams were scouting the levee as well and we made the mistake of not having a radio!
But that didn't deter the pig's ambition. They stopped at the loading site, went down to the low laying river and soaked in the mud. Eventually we wrangled up people and began the loading process. As we began to surround the group of three with partitions in an attempt to herd them, fear set in. The earlier presence of calmness was quickly disappearing. Unfortunately, one of the three we walked out escaped our barriers and ran into the distance. We were unable to locate her again but will continue to look for her again in the days following.
Overall the new approach, although strenuous and uncomfortable (when you add cumulus size clouds of nats), has proven successful. We have rescued a total of 28 pigs. All of which will never see the horrors of a factory farm again.