Lucky pig escapes death, finds new home at Pig Preserve

Some people don't believe in luck, but others sometimes count on it.

When Richard Hoyle got a little luck, he named one of his "babies" after it.

"Early last fall, late last summer, we got a phone call about 6:00-7:00 at night from a rescue [group] up in Kentucky that a small farm pig had fallen off the truck on its way to the auction on I-75," Hoyle remembers.

"The deputy that found the pig did not want to put the pig down, so he contacted his local rescue who got in touch with us."

Hoyle runs the Pig Preserve, a 100-acre farm that houses and cares for a herd of about 120 rescued pigs in Jamestown, Tennessee.

He hoped the little pig he picked up that night could join his others.

"When I checked him into UT that night, they said, 'What's his name?' I said, 'Well he just fell off a truck going to auction. He's pretty lucky, so we'll just call him Lucky.' And that stuck!"

Lucky spent several weeks at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. There, doctors operated on his fractured and infected leg, an injury Dr. David Anderson called "catastrophic."

"It was a very badly damaged leg, very difficult to put back together," Anderson said.

While his surgery was successful, Lucky still has nerve damage and limited range of motion in his leg. For an animal that will grow to weigh about 100 pounds, it's a troubling condition.

"Pigs get very big," Anderson said, "He needs to have four legs. If we can't get him back to having four legs, he's going to have a very difficult life."

Hoyle knew he was in for a long struggle with his little pig, but felt it was worth the work.

"Probably the common sense thing to do when we saw the extent of Lucky's injuries was to have him put down," Hoyle said. "We thought we'd give him a chance at having a real life. So, we'll see how it works out."

So far, it's working. After a few months at the hospital and some time in foster care, Lucky made his big trip home to the Pig Preserve.

Like all new pigs, he wasn't immediately welcomed into the group.

"His first couple of weeks here were pretty rough, going through the hazing and the indoctrination all the little pigs go through," Hoyle explained. "But they started accepting him as one of the group. I noticed he was sleeping in a pen with all the other babies, they were all snuggled together."

Lucky joins dozens of other survivors on Hoyle's farm, which includes pot belly, farm, and feral pigs. He keeps different communities in different environments most appropriate for their well-being.

Feeding time is an hours-long process every day, but a necessary chore for more than one reason.

"[It's the] one time of day I can physically lay my eyes and hands on every individual pig to make sure everybody's ok."

Lucky is, for the most part, doing ok. Hoyle is worried about his limited use of the recovering leg, and considering splint options.

On Wednesday, Lucky returned to UT for another surgery. Doctors worked to release some of the pressure in his leg and straighten the limb, hoping he will be able to use it more.

Anderson has gotten to know his patient well throughout the past few months.

"He's a unique pig. And to quote a spider in a web-- 'that's some pig,'" he said with a smile.

Hoyle knows it, too.

"He sure has a great love of life. He wants to be a pig so bad, and we're going to give him every chance we can."

To learn more about the Pig Preserve, or to make a donation, visit their website at


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