VERONA, Wis. - Workers at Heartland Farm Sanctuary in Verona are used to animals who have been through trauma, may it be from cruelty or neglect. The recent story of a baby pig is offering a lesson for humans.
"It's very powerful, the stories of resilience,” executive director Jen Korz said.
Made up of the forgotten, unwanted and misfits, Heartland Farm Sanctuary is full of tales of hope from its 110 animals – from a goat found on the streets of Milwaukee to a duck blinded by a mink attack.
“She is such an example of the power to overcome adversity,” Korz said. “She is super social and very bright."
Stories like that are how veterinary hospital worker Katie Hammar found the sanctuary online all the way from Orland Park, Illinois, after taking a call last month that was hard to hear.
"People had found a pig, watched him bounce out of the truck down Interstate 80,” Hammar said.
After hitting a highway face-first, the weeks-old pig was in rough shape. Following his treatment, Hammar ended up giving him a name -- Maxwell -- and a home for four days.
"He was a sweet little guy,” Hammar said. “I think he was very anxious to get near farm animals. Anytime he'd see a farm animal here move or make a noise, he wanted to get near them, so I knew he was very stressed being alone."
She took good care of Maxwell, but knew he needed to go to a place like Heartland.
"I didn't want him to survive this and end up in a sad fate anyway,” Hammar said.
Maxwell arrived in Wisconsin scared, tired and sick.
"It was so sad. He was shaking. We would wrap him up and hold him. What a traumatic first couple of days,” Korz said. "There is a really good chance of animals not making it after such trauma."
The sanctuary sent Maxwell to UW's vet clinic, where he was treated and returned.
"We were so relieved and squealy happy to see him that Sunday when he got home,” Korz said.
Maxwell is now squealy happy, too, back at the sanctuary and friendly and full of energy.
"He is very confident and very, very intelligent,” Korz said. “He's such a smart little guy."
Korz said if he had stayed on that truck, he would likely have been on the road to slaughter.
"What a horrible day for him, but he also won the lottery that day and changed the trajectory of his life."
Instead, the courageous piglet will grow up at the sanctuary, where he can make friends, and eventually grow to be even bigger than 600-pound Winnie, a pig who also fell out of a truck onto a highway years ago.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to see he's in a sanctuary where he can be in the sun and roll in mud and have a wonderful life ahead,” Hammar said.
For the children who take empathy classes at the sanctuary, or those who come to the farm as a form of therapy, Maxwell will also be an ambassador of resilience.
"On overcoming adversity and you know, even if you've experienced trauma, like real trauma from falling off of a transport truck on your head, to learning how to trust and find joy in life again,” Korz said. "Just to hear his story of overcoming trauma, and the resistance of his spirit, we think that will be such a wonderful lesson for kids. He’s such a good role model.”
Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.
- Soiree for historical landmark brings awareness to Madison's cultural history
- Fire department: Fire at Mallards stadium being investigated as potentially suspicious
- How to find affordable groceries in Madison area
- Wisconsin Science Festival is back with clean water theme
- Dane County District Attorney announces reelection campaign, addresses reformative justice
- UW marching band to perform at Packers/Raiders game