In January 2014, Atlanta West Veterinary Clinic had received a call about a piglet that a good Samaritan had found in the woods. The Veterinary clinic contacted the Tidwell's who to take him. He was an infant, orphaned feral pig, only two-and-a-half weeks old. The young piglet was so tiny and looked a bit like a baby deer. The people who found him had taken wonderful care of him, so he was very healthy and happy when the Tidwell's picked him up.
His mother and father most likely had been killed by hunters and without the good samaritans intervention, the wee lad would have died in the forest. He was brought to the sanctuary and named him Wilbur. He needed constant attention and would nurse non-stop on Mandi’s arm until she was left black and blue from his over-zealous affections. To this day, he still tries to nurse on her when given the opportunity. As per protocol at Hooves Marching for Mercy (which, at the time, was Pigs are People too) Wilbur was quarantined away from the rest of the herd until he could have a health check and be neutered. At seven weeks old he was taken in for the neuter surgery and during a routine blood test they discovered that the poor boy had tested positive for Pseudorabies*, which he had inherited from his mother.
Unfortunately, it is common practice in the state of Georgia for pigs infected with pseudorabies to be put down. The Department of Agriculture immediately quarantined the entire herd of seven pigs at the sanctuary, even though Wilbur had not had any contact with them. The Tidwell's could not bear to see their beloved animals destroyed so after a year-long battle, and much cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, they were finally permitted to keep the herd under a life long quarantine in the state of Georgia. That herd is now under a permanent quarantine and must be kept on a separate (albeit adjacent) piece of property from the other pigs at Hooves Marching for Mercy. The quarantined pigs remain oblivious to the fight for their lives, they don’t know that there is an entire team of people who would do whatever it takes that they be given the opportunity to live long and happy lives. They may not know about the legal battle, but they do know that they are loved. And they return that love in abundance.
Today Wilbur is a happy, healthy, 550-pound mama’s boy. He is a rather large pig, but he needs to be large, no ordinary sized pig could hold his charm and his personality. He’s a larger than life goofball who loves to play, beg for attention, and receive belly rubs. As of this writing, he has never shown signs of any illness. He is a carrier for pseudorabies, but since he is neutered there is no chance that he will spread the disease.
*Pseudorabies is so named because in nonporcine animals the signs of the illness mimic the symptoms of rabies. However, the disease itself affects the central nervous system and is in no way related to rabies.