The instant Bob Harper’s photo was posted on Facebook, the comments began to pour in: “He’s gorgeous!,” “OMG way too cute!,” “Awww, such a sweet face!,” “What a cutie-patooty!,” Ah, to be the star of a hit show adored by millions of fans. Or just the adorable namesake of one. When Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, was alerted on Monday to a one-month-old male piglet who had fallen off a transport truck — the third transport rescue by the organization this summer — they did not have to think long before deciding to name him after their national 2010 Walk for Farm Animals spokesperson, celebrity trainer Bob Harper from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Little Bob Harper piglet, once destined for a life of misery before being slaughtered at just 6 months of age, arrived late last night at the nonprofit’s New York Shelter in Watkins Glen. A twist of fate had made his life count.
A man driving along an Illinois interstate watched in horror as a tiny piglet fell from a transport truck driving in front of him and hit the pavement. He immediately stopped his car and retrieved the frightened animal, who was covered in road rash. He took the piglet home and cared for him until the realization set in that his apartment would not be an adequate home for an animal who could grow as large as 500 pounds. He then turned to Chicago Animal Care and Control for help, but not being able to find an appropriate home for the piglet in the city, they contacted Monica Frenden, executive director of Illinois Valley Cat Taxi, a cat shelter and low-cost spay/neuter program for cats in rural Illinois. Frenden’s weekly trips to Chicago to transport cats to a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in the city had led to her working with the Chicago ACC, which has since come to rely on her for finding homes for the city’s most difficult-to-place animals.
“While working with the Chicago Animal Care and Control to find homes for cats, I began noticing that somehow, all manner of barnyard animals were also finding their way to the Chicago pound,” said Frenden. “Sadly, due to the difficulty of finding suitable homes, most were being destroyed.” Frenden knew they had to extend their compassion to these animals, too, and before long, they were finding homes for chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs and all other farm animals who were found wandering the streets of Chicago. “These animals are just as friendly and intelligent as cats and dogs, and when provided with a safe, appropriate, caring forever home, they make excellent companions. Over the past year, I’m happy to say that no farm animals have been euthanized at the Chicago ACC because we’ve been able to place them all.”
Most farm animals found in major metropolitan areas are either slaughterhouse or live market escapees or transport rescues, like Bob Harper.
“There are a shocking number of farm animals who die during transport every year,” said Farm Sanctuary National Shelter Director Susie Coston. “Some are overcome by the heat and stress of the overcrowded conditions, others are victims in truck accidents and some of the smallest animals fall off these trucks on their way to finishing facilities. What most people don’t realize is that farm animals endure months of suffering and abuse long before they ever reach the slaughterhouse. Having cared for so many pigs over the years, and knowing how intelligent and sensitive they are, it is so hard to imagine them packed inside hot, overcrowded transport trucks on their way to finishing facilities and slaughterhouses across the country. Pigs are incredible animals with distinct personalities who love and enjoy life when given the opportunity. We wanted to name this piglet after Bob Harper because, as our national 2010 Walk for Farm Animals spokesperson, Bob is using his voice to bring much needed awareness to the hidden suffering of farm animals.”
Bob Harper piglet will not be the only piglet with a bold-faced name wallowing around in the mud at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter. He joins Kim Gordon piglet, another piglet who fell off a transport truck in July and was rescued by a rock band on a cross-country tour who found her wandering along a backcountry road in the middle of prairieland South Dakota. Jay the bull was the third transport rescue this summer. He survived a fiery truck crash in Indiana to make his home at the New York Shelter.
Bob Harper, the celebrity trainer, was so honored to have the little piglet named after him, he immediately posted a photo to his Facebook page to show off his adorable namesake. And if the number of comments declaring “I can never eat bacon again!” are any indication, this little guy, just like his namesake, has a way of motivating people.
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