Henrietta, a 400-pound hog with chewed-off ears who rallied animal activists after being found in the woods of Sampson County earlier this year, has died.
The mixed-breed hog – too big for a pot belly, too small for a meat hog – had a mass on her left front leg, most likely the result of a broken bone that had never healed properly.
But the right leg did her in. It had arthritis and in recent weeks had ballooned to the size of a soccer ball. She lay on her side, panting, not wanting anyone near.
Dr. Kristie Mozzachio, a veterinarian who briefly boarded the pig at her Cedar Grove home, drained fluid from the leg. But when her team determined she could no longer be made comfortable, Henrietta was euthanized Nov. 19.
“She leaves a hole in our hearts much bigger than her 400-pound body,” Justin Van Kleeck of the Triangle Chance for All sanctuary wrote on Henrietta’s Facebook page.
“Even though our time together was short, we are devastated by her loss and will always love Henrietta for the amazing individual she was.”
Henrietta, who was probably 3 or 4 years old, had dodged a lot of bullets.
Her ears were likely mauled by dogs.
The only calls the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office got after taking her in last winter were from people who wanted to eat her.
Lucky for her, Sgt. Jessica Kittrell, a pig lover, held out until Triangle Chance for All, a small farm-animal sanctuary in northern Chatham County, agreed to take her.
But the sanctuary specializes in chickens. So cofounder Justin Van Kleeck asked Penny Jeffrey, founder of Pig Pals of N.C., also in Chatham, if she could pick up the pig, which she did in the back of a Honda Element.
“In the 20 years I’ve worked with pigs, I have never met a pig like Henrietta,” Jeffrey said.
“She was a big girl, yet she was so gentle and dainty,” she said. “She was a true princess and loved blankets. She was quiet and kept a smile on her face. She absolutely loved her brush. And, it was her eyes. She looked at you, really looked at you with those beautiful eyes.”
Henrietta lived her last months at Pig Pals in a roomy outdoor pen shaded by pine trees.
She had become a porcine celebrity.
Her story helped raise $8,000 toward her care. Visitors and volunteers flocked to Pig Pals to meet her, some combing her bristly hair.
Her Facebook page had 764 likes.
“One person actually asked if it was OK if he printed (her picture) and framed it and put it on the wall,” Van Kleeck said.
More than fans, Henrietta leaves behind a legacy, a challenge to rethink how we treat animals like pigs used for food, he said.
“Henrietta had a huge impact on everyone who met her,” he said. “It’s really significant to see the impact one individual animal can have on people when you get to tell their story.”
Penny Jeffrey: My favorite memory
My favorite memory is of the day that I picked her up.
I was given two photos taken of Henrietta the night before her pickup. The photos had her standing next to an animal control officer (ACO). Based on the photos and chatting with my husband for an hour. I determined that she would fit into our giant-sized pig crate and hauled by my Honda Element. The only variable I could not determine was her body length and the ACO couldn’t be reached that evening. Oh bother!
When I arrived, she was much larger than expected and wouldn’t come close to fitting inside the crate but I knew she needed to leave and get care ASAP, so I decided to load her into the back of my Element. Yes, the ACOs there thought I was crazy ... but heck, I am a pig lady. Henrietta was loaded, and we were on our way for a 2 hour trip to Dr. Mozzachio’s. In the meantime, one of the ACOs took my giant crate an hour to my mother’s house until I could get it another day.
As I was driving down the road I kept hoping that she would lie down and not try to come into the front part of the vehicle because there would be no way I could hold her back. This was a 400 lbs. bag that stood 3 feet tall and was 4 feet long!
Fortunately, she settled down and made the two-hour trip politely. I have never transported such a large animal outside of a crate and expected the worst but I received the best. Maybe she knew the love and care that she was about to receive..
Even though it was not quite a year, we are thankful for every moment we got to spend with her. She was able to teach so many visitors and bring awareness to the horrible issues facing pigs used for meat. On the day she died, we had 22 Animal Science students visiting from NC A&T. I took them to her deceased body and I told them her story. I asked them to be compassionate for pigs in their future careers. And, if they truly loved an animal then they would not use it for food consumption.
Henrietta was placed to rest here. She will be forever remembered.