In memory of Laces

15/01/18 - 05/04/24

Born 'Apple Sauce' this little girl was a victim of the mini pig fad. She was sold to someone buying on impulse at just 10 weeks old. Within two weeks the buyer had regretted their decision and advertised her free on classifieds as "friend or food" 💔

Unlike animals such as cats and dogs, there are no facilities for rehoming an unwanted 'mini pig'. This often leaves misguided buyers in a state of desperation once they realize that these beautiful individuals demand tremendous dedication and resources, and importantly, do not remain 'mini'.

Upon spotting the ad, and having a large garden, we resolved to collect her immediately, should anyone decide that pigs are food, not friends. We understood the challenges, yet felt honoured and determined to face them.

We prepared her bed beneath the stairs in the kitchen, and a hay bed in an outside building, and on her first night, she skillfully unraveled the laces from my new shoes. This charming act of mischief inspired her new name.

Roughly three months after welcoming Laces into our home and hearts, we learned of Rodney, who was in a similar situation. Another casualty of the "mini pig" trend, Rodney was left with an overwhelmed carer.

Despite our tight space, we pondered whether Rodney could offer Laces some much-needed companionship. The logistics of caring for another pig seemed daunting, but the alternative - risking Rodney falling into the hands of someone who might see him as nothing more than a free meal - was unthinkable.

So we took this sweet little boy in, and the two became immediately inseparable. 

Rodney and Laces were total opposites. Laces, ever vocal, would often trail behind Rodney or another family member, always ready to take the lead from others. Rodney, on the other hand, is a gentle giant, following his own whims and never one to be guided. He quickly took on the role of bed maker, skillfully arranging blankets and hay to create a cozy resting place for two every night. They were never far apart always calling to one another constantly updating each other on their goings on.

We made every effort to keep these incredibly intelligent individuals engaged. We provided an assortment of purchased and homemade toys for their amusement. Laces particularly enjoyed chasing a football. To further stimulate them, we scattered food throughout the garden, prompting them to spend the day foraging and digging - a favourite pastime!

We also obtained permission from local authorities to take them for walks in the surrounding area. Rodney showed little interest in these outings. In contrast, Laces relished her walks, thoroughly investigating every inch of the path and turning heads as we went.

Over the months, we exhausted every idea to ensure their happiness. Although we saw no signs of discontent, their growing needs predicably paralleled their physical growth, prompting us to question whether we were truly providing the best possible life for them. After careful consideration, we concluded that relocating them to a sanctuary, which could offer far more space than we could ever provide, would be giving them their best lives.

We spoke with Beneath the Wood Sanctuary, which had the necessary land and a willingness to help, but lacked fencing. A fundraiser was created, marking the start of a significant collaborative effort to raise the required funds.

Shortly after launching the fundraiser for Rodney & Laces, another campaign to save six pigs, who had been used for racing, from slaughter came to light. The two efforts merged, successfully securing sanctuary for all eight.

As our fundraiser hit its target Beneath the Wood were involved in a high-profile case that rescued 53 pigs (some pregnant) from truly horrifying conditions at an illegal slaughterhouse in Pembrokeshire.

With help from activists and charities such as Viva, Beneath the Wood tripled the size of the sanctuary’s dependents overnight.

Rodney & Laces moved in shortly after and despite being the smallest pigs in the sanctuary, they made lots of friends, and Rodney happily continued his bed making duties for himself and his partner.

After many joyful years, we received distressing news from Sasha. Laces had fallen ill, and the vet was unable to diagnose the issue. Determined to give her the best chance at recovery, Sasha arranged for Laces to be transferred to a veterinary hospital. That following evening, the call came. Laces was suffering from a tumour on her spleen, and tests revealed that the aggressive cancer had spread to her bloodstream; surgery to remove the tumour would not save her. I rushed to the hospital, where I met with Abi, the sanctuary's director. Together, we spent Laces's final hours by her side, offering comfort and to say our goodbyes as she was put to sleep. 

Since pigs are classified as 'livestock' under the law, there was no chance of a dignified burial or cremation. Legally, pigs are treated as biological waste and are disposed of by incineration along with other animals of the same legal status. To honour her life, we requested that her body be donated for veterinary study. This would allow future veterinarians to learn from her illness and potentially save others like her. Meanwhile, we continue to advocate for a future where pigs are afforded the respect and rights they deserve.

Rodney has lost his partner and clearly misses her, it is likely that he knew she was terminally ill before anybody else given the incredible sense of smell pigs possess. Sasha and Abi are making efforts to encourage more interaction with the other pigs to fill the void left by Laces's passing. 

Laces's life ended too soon, but she had six happy years in which she was loved. Most pigs in this world do not see their first birthday and never know human kindness. This is what we must all work to change, and why sanctuary’s like Beneath the Wood are so important. We must strive to dismantle industries that treat lives as mere commodities and work tirelessly to provide rescued animals with the best possible lives. It is the least we can do for them.

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