CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Less than a week after a pig wandering the back roads of Carter County made national news, one wildlife sanctuary took it upon itself to give her a new life.
Known to the residents of Judge Ben Allen Road as Petunia, the 300-pound sow spent her last days in Tennessee as she had any other — sleeping and eating. Little did she know, only hours later she would join over 100 other pigs at Harley June Farm and Sanctuary.
How It Started
Petunia was a nuisance animal — one that trespassed and caused property damage throughout the areas she was known to frequent. After several calls from residents to local authorities scattered over months, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office put out a call for her owner. Petunia needed to be dealt with, and if her owner wouldn’t, someone else would. There was only one problem: moving a pig that big is a bit difficult.
“We have no way to transport a 300-pound pig; we have nowhere to put a 300-pound pig…safely,” Shannon Posada, director of the county’s animal shelter, said. “Unless we ask for a foster, and we’re happy to ask for a foster, but still, we have no way of transportation for that large of an animal.”
The shelter hoped a local farmer would pick Petunia up, but there were no guarantees that she would end up in a permanent home once the foster had her. In the meantime, she was still at large and enjoying a hearty diet of grasses and neighborhood property.
So, how do you get her out? Simple: an interstate effort from multiple people to capture and transport a 300-pound animal.
Operation: All The Way Home
Enter Amy Mullins, owner and operator of Harley June Farm and Sanctuary. She was first made aware of Petunia’s predicament after CBS Mornings picked up her story.
With the logistics down, Mullins and company needed to figure out the nuts and bolts of Petunia’s pickup.
Pigs are notoriously stubborn creatures without the added independence of free-range wandering, so crews needed a way to figure out just how to get her from Point A to Point B without major injuries or damage. The solution is straightforward: let her walk in herself.
Using boards to her left and right and a blocker behind, helpers were able to guide Petunia into a livestock trailer without a shoving match that they would have lost. In a video, you can hear her grunting in protest but going along with the crew’s directions albeit slowly.
Part of that lumbering pace, it turns out, was because she was “Fat Blind,” a condition in pigs that occurs when forehead and cheek fat grows so large that it covers the eyes completely.
A pig being heavy isn’t altogether that surprising, but Petunia’s weight is a topic that Mullins plans to address at her new home in North Carolina.
How It’s Going
Nowadays Petunia goes by another name: Ellie Mae. She’s living high on the hog in North Carolina, at an undisclosed location for her and her new friends’ safety.
In the short term, she’s living in a smaller pen as the herd gets used to her. Pigs have a pecking order much like chickens (yes, it’s a thing.), so throwing her straight in with new pigs could lead to fights and injuries. Plus, with her being temporarily blind, the stress of all the new sensations could prove to be too much for her.
That smaller space isn’t without its amenities: she has a pool, brand new straw pile bed and a chicken friend that likes to sleep on her back.
Ellie’s Carter County journey has come to an end, but her weight loss journey has just started. To get the medical care she needs like spaying, she’ll have to trim down quite a bit.