The pig found earless and with a big, bony mass on her foreleg in Sampson County earlier this year has moved to Pig Pals of NC, a sanctuary for miniature pigs.
At 400 pounds, there’s nothing miniature about Henrietta. With missing ear flaps and gutteral rumblings she looks and sounds like something more prehistoric than porcine.
But as volunteer Janice Clark brushed her bristle coat last weekend, the pig that underwent surgery for the mass at N.C. State a few weeks ago, began to close her eyes and doze on a straw bed beneath the trees.
Triangle Chance for All, a small farm-animal sanctuary in Chatham County, rescued the pig from Sampson County. They focus mostly on chickens and don’t have room for a pig, so they are boarding her at Pig Pals, also in Chatham County, where she arrived this month and will likely stay.
“We are extremely excited about this partnership with Pig Pals,” said Justin Van Kleeck, cofounder of the Triangle Chance for All. “Penny Jeffrey is amazing with pigs.”
Jeffrey, an assistant professor of science education at N.C. State, started Pig Pals in Fuquay Varina in 1996. She later moved the pigs to northern Durham and about four years ago to seven acres outside Siler City.
Over the 20 years, Jeffrey estimates she’s housed 150 pigs and helped at least 500.
Pot-bellied pigs were a fad that she says is sadly coming around again. The piglets are sold as “teacups,” but “there’s no such thing,” she said. “It’s a marketing term.”
By the time they reach Labrador size – Jeffrey’s pigs range from 70 pound Gaston to 120 pound Frank – they’re not so cute. And the males grow tusks that periodically need to be filed down, also not cute.
Eventually the pigs become more than some can handle. They get loose; they get attacked by dogs, which is how Henrietta and Princess, a pot belly at Pig Pals, likely lost their ear flaps.
Or their owners neglect them. The owner of Abigail, another of Jeffrey’s pigs, failed to trim the animal’s front hooves, crippling the pig.
Pigs Pals keeps its pigs in herds of two to nine animals.
For now Henrietta, her leg bandaged where the mass was removed, is in her own enclosure as she recuperates. She sleeps under a lean to and rises on three legs, excited, when Jeffrey fills her food bowl.
The plan is to get a “sleeve” made for her left foreleg and a brace for her right (good) leg, said Van Kleeck, who is working with veterinarian Kristie Mozzachio. The brace will help with the arthritis she already has in that leg, which is a common, significant problem in pigs, he said.
“It is about the best possible situation we could hope for: Henrietta is close, and she has a top-notch team caring for her long-term,” Van Kleeck said. “We are looking forward to a happy life for her moving forward.”
In time, Jeffrey says guests may be able to visit with Henrietta as they do the smaller pigs, which come trotting when Jeffrey calls them by name.
She is “pretty sweet,” Clark said – even if meeting her was a bit of a surprise.
“I saw her pictures online,” the volunteer said. “I had no idea she was so big.”
To learn more about Pig pals of NC go to http://demo003642.hgsitebuilder.com/