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A Better Place (with an intro by our Director)

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

I received a call from the RISPCA, looking to know if we could help them find a place to take two pigs taken from a cruelty situation. According to them, neighbors in Scituate, RI had been complaining to the police that the owner was only showing up to care for the pigs every third day. It was winter, they didn't have the proper shelter, they were being fed only old donuts and their water was frozen day after day. To prove this, the police utilized a game-cam and noted the comings and goings...and eventually stepped in, seized the pigs and arrested the alleged owner.

We have never had pigs, we did not have the proper setup for them, nor did our vet want to add pigs to his vast repertoire. But where were they going to go? There is no other farm animal rescue in our area. And before we existed, there were none. If we didn't take them, they would likely end up on a farm, their ultimate fate undetermined.

So next thing I know, I am hearing myself tell RISPCA that we would take them and be responsible for their care. And so, now we have pigs, and below, the Sakonnet Times documents the start of their story with us.

-Wendy Taylor, Director

The original article is available here (with subscription).

West Place Animal Sanctuary volunteers from left, Sophia Fiore, Connie Smith, Alex Quigley and Christine Crawford pet the new rescued pig Jack as the animal gets used to it’s new home on Friday afternoon.


By Bruce Burdett

TIVERTON — Jack and Diane waddled out of the trailer midday Friday and onto the grass at Tiverton’s West Place Animal Sanctuary, the place they’ll call home for the rest of their lives. It’s a far cry from the miserable sty they had endured up in Scituate, RI, and and from an (alleged) owner who now faces cruelty charges.

“Jack and Diane are settling in well,” West Place owner Wendy Taylor said Monday. “They have their own stall and paddock during their rehabilitation. We are going to work on taking off weight, maybe 20 pounds, and putting on muscle with their new diet and exercise. They are now on pig pellets with the right amount of protein and fiber, as well as lettuce, vegetables and fruits that are good for them.”

The delivery went well, she said. “They are calm and putting up with all the changes to their lives. We can't yet say the same for the other residents, who look at them as predators — the sheep, goats and alpaca are very afraid and do a lot of staring. But they're very funny about it and it gives them something to focus on for a while so it's keeping them busy.”

“Once the pigs are starting to feel better, we will begin rubbing oil on them to try to cure their dry skin and all the scabs. And once they lose weight we will be able to treat their eyes and their bad vision, but they are so poorly nourished and fat we can barely see their eyes, let alone reach them.”

A miserable past

Their future at West Place represents a marked change for the better from what they had known in Scituate, RI, said Joe Warzycha, humane law enforcement officer for the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA).

Their previous owner, identified by RISPCA in court papers as Glocester, RI, resident Dan MacKenzie kept them in space he used at the Scituate property (owned by yet another person).

RISPCA was called in three weeks ago when a person living nearby became concerned that the two 150-pound Vietnamese pot belly pigs were not receiving much in the way of care.

Mr. Warzycha responded, and when he saw no evidence after several days that the animals were being provided with food, water or adequate shelter, he took action to seize the pigs and launch legal proceedings against the owner.

“There was no evidence of food or water — what water there was was frozen, the shelter was not adequate,” Mr. Warzycha said.

The pigs were brought to RISPCA’s Riverside facility where a veterinarian was called in and reported what was already clear — “they were not in great shape.”

Both were suffering from hypothermia and were suffering from skin infections and eye issues. Diane was had overgrown feet due to lack of routine and necessary hoof trimming, and the male had a broken tusk.

And both were obese yet suffering from poor nutrition and lack of muscle tone — reportedly due to a sporadic diet of stale bread and doughnuts, presumably refuse from some nearby bakery.

Although relatively small for grown pigs — the veterinarian only declared them to be “adult”, “I didn’t think it was possible that pigs could be that fat. They clearly need to lose weight.”

So obese are the two that rolls of fat hangover their eyes — so much that they can’t see.”

Yet they are both sweet and affectionate to those who have dealt with them, he added.

Mr. MacKenzie was arraigned in Kent County District Court last week on four counts — two for each pig of mistreatment of animals and two counts of unnecessary cruelty.

He plead not guilty to all counts — Mr. Warzycha said that Mr. Mackenzie has denied owning the pigs.

He faced similar charges involving a horse in 2013 but was acquitted.

Operates farm animal ‘rescue’

Mr. MacKenzie said RISPCA is also interested in the fact that Mr. Mackenzie appears to be the owner and operator of an organization called BonnieDale Farm Rescue (no connection to Bonniedale Farm), whose website declares, “We provide a loving and caring home for all animals.”

“Unfortunately I think he lures the community in to help,” Mr. Warzycha said. “I question what he is doing with the money he receives.”

Mr. Warzycha said he wants to (had had not yet been able as of Friday) to visit Mr. MacKenzie’s property to check on the condition of any animals being kept there.


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