Updated: May 11, 2020
Edna is a beautiful 600 lb Yorkshire pig who was rescued from the food industry and brought to Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary as a tiny two-week old piglet. Because of the aggressive breeding practices and horrible living conditions on the factory farm she came from, Edna has suffered numerous health problems throughout her life, including painful joints and a weakened immune system that has made her predisposed to severe infections. Still, with good care, she managed to live a very happy life at Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary. That is, until she was hit by a severe infection in her two rear feet, which despite aggressive medical treatment at Happy Hen, invaded her bone tissue and threatened her life.
In January of 2020, she was transported 5 hours to the top Veterinary Hospital in the world, the University of California at Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital for emergency treatment. She was struggling to walk or even stand, and X-rays of her back feet revealed severe bone infection in both the right and left feet. The veterinarians at U.C. Davis felt there was nothing they could do to help her, and recommended euthanasia.
Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary’s veterinarian Dr. Sherstin Rosenberg had cared for Edna since she was 2 weeks old was convinced that Edna still had strength and will to live and believed that more should be done. After all, domestic pigs, with proper care, can live to be 20 years old and Edna was not even five. As bad as things were, it just didn’t seem right for someone to have to die because of a foot infection, even if that someone was a 600 pound pig. And so, despite having to sign a release document saying she was taking Edna from U.C. Davis against their medical advice, Dr. Rosenberg brought Edna back home to Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary on the evening of January 20, 2020.
Edna was relieved to be home, and walked around as best she could, greeting her sanctuary friends and making sure everything was still in place after her 3 days hospital stay. Still, her back feet hurt. When she walked, her front legs had to be placed wide apart to bear the majority of her 600 pound body. Her muscles shook with the effort, and she rapidly shifted weight between her back feet to alleviate discomfort as best she could.
The Happy Hen staff were excited to have Edna home, but their hearts were heavy knowing Edna needed help. And the best veterinarians in the state had said there was nothing they could do. Dr. Rosenberg searched desperately to find a veterinary surgeon to help Edna. She found a world renowned surgeon at New York’s Cornell Veterinary Teaching Hospital, who said he would try to help Edna if she were his patient. He had treated other pigs with similar conditions, and after viewing Edna’s x-rays and medical records, he gave specific recommendations for her surgery.
But Dr. Ducharme was too far away to operate on Edna himself, and Dr. Rosenberg still couldn’t find a veterinary surgeon in the state of California who was willing. After weeks of doing her best to keep Edna comfortable with 3 different pain medications and daily antibiotic injections, a well- connected animal advocate in southern California recommended a Veterinarian in Woodland who might be able to perform Edna’s surgery.
On March 4, 2020, Edna pig made the 3 hour trip to Paws and Claws, a unique animal clinic in a busy Los Angeles suburb. Dr. Rick Garcia and his staff worked impressively to transport a 600 pound Edna into a clinic designed for dogs and cats. For the next 8 hours she received top notch veterinary care, the kind of care people expect for their beloved household companions. Dr. Garcia removed the infected bone from both of Edna’s feet. The surgery took hours, and Edna left the hospital with cast bandages on both rear feet. $11,000 later, she was back on the road home to Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary.
Edna’s road to recovery has been long and difficult. The highly skilled and compassionate staff at Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary, led by Jan Galeazzi, worked for weeks to provide Edna with the best possible care. She continued to receive 3 different pain medications, and remarkably seemed fairly pain free after her surgery. Removing the infected bone, along with the support casts, made standing and walking comfortable for Edna for the first time in months.
During her recovery, Edna had to be placed under general anesthesia every week so that Dr. Rosenberg could change her bandages. Dr. Rosenberg was pleased with Edna’s progress, and after the 8th week, Dr. Rosenberg decided that Edna no longer needed bandages. Edna could now stand and walk comfortably on her back legs. She was down to only one type of pain medication. It was time for her to leave the barn!
Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary ordered an enormous pile of sand. The staff worked tirelessly to spread that sand in Edna’s barnyard, so that she would have a soft surface to stand on. And on May 7, 2020, Edna was able to walk out of her barn, bandage free, pain free, for the first time in a very long time. She was greeted by an applauding staff and a juicy watermelon treat. She felt the wind in her face and the sun on her back, and she dug into the soft dirt with her snout. She dumped over a giant bowl of water and made herself a mud bath.
Edna’s story shows us that we should never give up on anyone. It took dozens of people and more than $15,000 and counting, but our belief in her, and the value of her life, made this miracle happen. Our belief in the value of all lives on this planet, and our willingness to fight for those lives, is what changes the world.
Please Donate to help us cover the ongoing costs of caring for Edna and the hundreds of other animals at Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary. We pride ourselves on being the primary animal sanctuary in the state for taking the most difficult-to-care-for rescues from the factory farming industry. We provide full-time veterinary care through our onsite clinic and work with experts around the country to make sure that even the most specialized needs are met.