“I grew up in Mobile. I always wanted to be a truck driver and did it for more than 30 years. There aren’t many places in this beautiful country that I haven’t seen. I had health issues all my life, starting with a heart murmur. Blood pressure issues finally cost me my career. The doctor tried different medications but it was always too high. After a few years, I couldn’t pass my physical. The meds started making go into a daze and forget where I was going and I would pass my exit coming to the terminal. I was driving an 18-wheeler carrying 80,000 pounds and realizing I was 30 miles past my exit and wondering how I got there. I knew this job was over before someone got hurt. On the way home in my personal vehicle, I went into another daze and didn’t realize the car in front of me stopped. I thank God no one was hurt but both cars were totaled. I had no insurance so I lost my license.
I had to figure out what to do with the rest of my life and started rescuing animals. I own a small farm of 7 acres in Lucedale, so I decided to start taking in unwanted and abandoned animals. I have had Piggyworld Sanctuary for nine years. The first rescues were pit bulls. They are very loving creatures, but misunderstood. It’s not the breed, it’s the way people raised them. I took in a few pigs but didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. The next thing I knew, I had piglets. Then everyone wanted a piglet, so I started selling them. Now I have over 60-something pigs that were abandoned, abused, mistreated, got too big, or their landlord wouldn’t let them keep it. We just got all of the males fixed about five months ago. I learned a lot from trial and error.
My mouth overloaded my pocketbook and running a rescue brought on a lot of stress. All of these animals are my responsibility and there was no one else to help. One day I woke up covered in mud with pigs all around me. I figured I must have tripped. I showered and washed off the mud, but didn’t feel that great. After a few weeks, I went to see a doctor and found out I had a heart attack and needed open heart surgery if I wanted to live. What would happen to all of those animals I have saved that now depend on me? I knew they would die without me. I had the surgery and seven days later I was back home. There were many months of recovery but I’m still alive doing everything possible to continue caring for what I saved. The funny part is the valves they used to rebuild my heart were pig valves. A pig gave its life to save me.
My unemployment ran out and disability is my sole income. The animals get every dime I have. We have three horses, six cats, nine dogs, then a bunch of chickens and ducks. With this many pigs, there are always fences to repair and pigs to chase down. I start about 5:30 in the morning and go bed about midnight. I still do everything on and I am in desperate need of help with fencing repair. I would love to have volunteers to help, even if it is only for a day. About eight inches of water is covering the pig yard right now. There have been some days I didn’t know how I could feed any of us tomorrow, but God always provides, even if I have to eat pancakes just so my animals can eat. I volunteer at a mission that gives out food and I bring the leftovers to the pigs. I just got three puppies that need to be fixed, but I don’t have the funds for that yet.
I encourage people to come out and tour and meet the animals. My dog’s kisses and the pigs eating out of my hand keeps me going. There is a lot of love. I continue to get through just one more day to show one more animal or person that love is still out there. I rescue animals, but to be honest, they rescue me. If it wasn’t for them, I would have the strength to do what I do. I survive because of them.”
(If you want to make a donation for fencing or to help fix the dogs at Piggyworld, here is the rescue’s paypal link: paypal.me/piggyworld)