On 8 August 2013 Mandi and David Tidwell received a call from the Gadsden, Alabama Humane Society. The Humane Society had heard by word of mouth that the couple may have been able to help with a 2-year-old pig that had been found wandering the streets. Before driving to Alabama, Mandi and David had a serious discussion about whether to help the pig. The couple had already had a pair of pigs as pets, but they knew that if they went out to rescue the pig from Alabama, that they would no longer be pig guardians, but would instead make the leap into animal rescue. After talking it over, they realized that they couldn’t say “no” to an animal in need, they decided to become a rescue for the growing number of pigs in need.
Before going to Alabama, the Georgia-based couple filed for state run non-profit, which at the time, they named Pigs Are People Too. Once the paperwork was in place, they drove down to Alabama to save the pig. At first glance, the pig looked so regal that he was immediately donned “Sir Gaddy.” Upon first meeting him, he was very scared and wouldn’t let anybody touch him. Mandi, acting quickly, grabbed a peach and held it out for him. In a moment of trust, Sir Gaddy reached out and gingerly grabbed the peach, and we were lucky enough to get that moment caught in a photograph. It was a very tender moment, but quickly broken when the couple tried to load him into the crate for transport.
He was eventually caught and brought back to Georgia. That evening the unneutered male, filled with piss and vinegar, chewed through his metal pen and went after the Tidwell’s two pet pigs. He was promptly neutered the next day and had no other issues since then. The Tidwell’s had learned a valuable lesson about neutering all male pigs upon intake. As Sir Gaddy healed from the surgery he was brought inside where he learned to trust Mandi and David. It was a slow process but finding that he had a fondness for ear rubs they were able to help him trust affection from people. It would take another two years for Gaddy to learn to trust enough for a belly rub.
As he was found as a stray, Sir Gaddy’s early history is unknown. He was starved when he was rescued, but quickly gained a healthy weight. Though he is shy, he still enjoys meeting new people. One of Mandi’s biggest joys in life are those rare occasions when Gaddy will roll over for a belly rub. It had been a long journey to get him to trust, but well worth the passage.
Sir Gaddy is a permanent resident at the Sanctuary as a later rescue named Wilbur was found to have a rare disease called pseudorabies. Wilbur is only a carrier of the disease, which is, thankfully, not transferable to humans. Because Wilbur is only a carrier and neutered, so unless he were to get sick, which he never has, none of the other pigs have ever gotten sick from pseudorabies. After a year’s fight, the sanctuary was granted a permanent quarantine with the rest of the herd, which at the time numbered seven. The quarantine status was an enormous victory for Pigs Are People Too (later renamed Hooves Marching for Mercy) as the Dept. of Agriculture initially wanted to euthanize the entire herd, which included Mandi and David's two original pet pigs. The quarantine herd, as per state procedure, is safely contained on a separate piece of property from the rest of the sanctuary.
Today, the shy but sweet Gaddy, spends his time with the original herd; sunning himself, digging, playing in mud puddles, and enjoying anyone who comes for a visit. The quarantined herd maintains a very tight relationship with one another. Today, there are four remaining members of the herd, as tragic circumstances (unrelated to pseudorabies) have taken three of the pigs, yet the crew remain as close as ever. They have each other, they are happy.