In January 2022, a Piglet was born in a commercial farm without a hoof on all of her four limbs and was set to be culled. The farmer who noticed this Piglet struggling to walk on the grated metal flooring of the barn reached out to Sisu Refuge to try and save this young creature with such unique traits.
The Piglet was named Hannah.
Hannah instantly became a superstar, not only due to her being hoofless, but also because she was a real sweetheart. She was Sisu Refuge’s first rescue in 2022.
A SAFE HAVEN
“As soon as Hannah arrived here, she knew she was safe,” Sisu Refuge said on their Facebook post on Jan. 9, 2022. Hannah made herself right at home, going around the house, playing, rooting, running, and looking for some snuggles.
“We’ve never seen a Piglet quite so ready to take on life!” her new human companions said in the post.
Just over a week since Hannah arrived at the facility, her human companions shared through their Facebook page that Hannah allowed them to touch her “toes” for some pictures, as needed for some virtual consultations.
They mentioned that the process of building trust and normalizing constant touching was a slow and steady process, but our fearless Piglet seemed to get adjusted right away!
FURTHER DOWN THE LINE
Sisu Refuge acknowledged that Hannah’s condition would come with challenges as Hannah grew older, which was why they worked with different people and explored the use of prosthetics, wheelchairs, and shoes.
Sisu Refuge is a Pig sanctuary based in Albertson, North Carolina, which serves as a home to 130 individuals. They are a registered non-profit organization wherein 100% of public donations go to the Pigs and their corresponding care. You may visit their website at www.sisurefuge.com.
According to Dr. Romeo E. Sanchez Jr., a swine veterinarian, Hannah’s condition is considered uncommon. On the contrary, overgrown hooves are a much more common condition in Pigs due to the continuous growth of hooves that comes with age and due to some flooring materials that do not let Pigs naturally wear the hooves down when they move.
Dr. Sanchez further explained that Hannah’s condition was most likely congenital but other possible causes could not be ruled out. There are some possible complications that would develop, such as skin abrasion and joint problems, as the hoofless legs would bear the weight of Hannah as she grew.
Optimistically, Dr. Sanchez believed that with dedicated care and medical intervention, such as soft pen materials and medical attention and prosthetics, Hannah could have a rather good prognosis.
According to Olga Smirnova in a 2018 article for BBC, “Sisu” is a Finnish word that means strength, perseverance in a task that for some may seem crazy to undertake, or almost hopeless. The word originates from the word sisus which means “guts”.
Sisu stands for determination, fortitude, and persistence; an almost magical quality; a combination of stamina and courage held in reserve for hard time. It is taking action against the odds. All these are according to Sisu Refuge’s website.
365 DAYS AND COUNTING!
2022 was not easy on Hannah or her human companions. Not only because Hannah was born hoofless, but also because she had stomach hernia, which was another congenital problem.
Early that year, Hannah was already in and out of different veterinary facilities for hernia repair and complications that she had to deal with post-surgery, plus the recurring inflammation and complications from her “toes”.
In July, Hannah had a piece of broken bone in one of her hindlimbs, confirmed through X-ray. Our little fearless Pig had to be placed in wraps. She eventually recovered.
Later that year, Hannah was scheduled to have her measurements taken for prosthetic legs. Sadly, this important part to have her prosthetics made kept on getting delayed as Hannah’s different medical needs had to be met first, and she was in and out of recovery.
Fortunately, Hannah and the team caring for her got to end the year with a blast. Hannah finally had her first pair of prosthetic legs!
Fearless Hannah made it through. She is indeed a hoofless but fearless Pig who is quite so ready to take on life. Hannah is now outgrowing her first pair of prosthetics and would need new ones real soon!
Should you wish to follow Hannah’s story, visit Sisu Refuge’s Facebook page and meet the other animals in the facility, too!
HANNAH’S PIGGY BANK
A program was launched in November that would serve as Hannah’s legacy.
The Hannah’s Piggy Bank program is paying forward all the love and support Hannah received from everyone who heard her story. Small medical grants will be offered to other sanctuaries or Pigs in need of urgent medical care.
According to Samantha Turnbull in a 2019 article, a two-week-old Pig named Betty who was only born with two hind hooves and hoofless forelimbs was rescued by Kelly Nelder from the Sugarshine Feminist Animal Rescue Mission (FARM) Sanctuary in New South Wales Village.
According to Colin Scanes in 2011 in his book Fundamentals of Animal Science, the ancestors of the domestic Pigs are the Wild Eurasian Pigs (Sus scrofa). The first Pigs were introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1493.