BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Sandy Brown is probably the foremost advocate for animal care in this part of the state.
And despite the director of Fort Madison’s P.A.W. animal shelter having her hands more than full finding forever homes for wayward dogs and cats, she doesn’t have the heart to turn away anything, including a piglet that fell from a livestock trailer on July 19 on a Lee County highway.
The 21 lb. baby pig, may have been smarter than the rest of her truckmates, or was maybe just clumsy, but certainly was lucky as now, despite getting a little banged up, escaped a certain path to a mechanized butcher, and will now find a home free of the demise.
And Brown insists upon it.
“Shirley” as she has been affectionately dubbed by P.A.W. volunteers is now in a back yard pen at a residence in Fort Madison under quarantine by Iowa Wildlife.
The pig has to be isolated for a month and then tested for any possible viral or bacterial infections before being moved.
But back to the tumble.
A motorist traveling behind a livestock trailer full of the pigs witnessed the little banana-loving porker slip through a gap in the trailer and tumble to the pavement.
Brown said the pig may have suffered a broken snout, but for the most part just suffered some pretty serious road rash and bruising. The motorist, who wasn’t identified, took the pig to the Lee County Sheriff’s office who in turn called Brown to see if P.A.W. could help.
‘I’m so thankful that we have that relationship with the sheriff’s office and the Fort Madison police department that they feel they can call on us in these situations,” Brown said. “We work very closely with them and I think we have a very good relationship with them.”
The pig was taken to a vet and checked over and vaccinated, tagged and then brought back to the shelter.
“She’s a farm pig, not a pot-bellied pig, so we put out that we are looking for a home for her,” Brown said.
“We don’t want her to end up on somebody’s BLT sandwich. So we’re looking for a farm sanctuary or a home with a couple chickens, and a goat… and possible a big pig. She’s a butcher hog, so she could get to be 500 lbs in a year or so.”
Brown said anyone who takes possession of “Shirley”, will have to sign an agreement that the pig will never be taken to slaughter.
The shelter has previously taken in rats, ferretts, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs and potbelly pig. She said she didn’t know she couldn’t have the potbelly pigs, but through this process now knows she can’t have those on the property.
Ag officials told Brown “Shirley” now cannot be taken to another pig farm and has to be quarantined.
“We can’t give her to a pig farm because you can’t cross up the animals,” she said. “We have to hold her til the testing is done at the end of August. We hope to have her home chosen before her quarantine is done so when she is released to go – she’s gone.”
Brown said the shelter frequently gets calls about animals other than dogs and cats and staff takes action to make sure they are healthy and then try to find homes or a proper release vessel for the animals.
“Last year we had opossoms and baby raccoons, but we work with Iowa Wildlife Management where we hold them for a day or two and then they come and pick them up.
Brown said she’s has never turned away an animal, but the best course of action for these types of events is to either call the shelter for a resource, and in the event of wildlife, Iowa Wildlife or conservation officials are a good source.
“Obviously, we’re here to help in situations like this, but we also know people, so if we can’t help, like we’re not licensed or something, we can contact people who can help,” Brown said.
But she said the best plan, as hard as it sounds, if the animal just seems lost, to let Mother Nature take it’s course.
“As cold-hearted as it sounds most of the time it’s just best to let Mother Nature takes it course,” Brown said. “And don’t stand there and look at the animal, mom is watching somewhere just let it takes it’s course.”
The shelter is also planning their first golf-outing fundraiser on Aug. 11. The four-person best shot is $60 per player and includes entree fee, greens fees and a cart. Some adoptable pets may be on the course during the event and cleaning supplies can be donated for mulligans. Call 319-528-6214 for more information.