Friedman got the call about Mikey roughly a year ago, from a veterinarian at Cornell who was familiar with the sanctuary’s work. He learned that a young pig had suffered severe injuries, including a fractured skull, as a result of a dog attack. The family who brought him in told the staff at Cornell that the piglet could be euthanized if costs to save him exceeded $500.
“I will never let an animal die because of money,” says Friedman. “[I’m] never going to put a price tag on an animal. I don’t care what I have to do.”
So, that was that. Friedman took a deep breath and told the doctor to do whatever they could to save Mikey’s life and the sanctuary would do the rest. “If they have the ability to save the animal, we have the ability to rehab that animal,” he says.
After the life-saving surgery, which involved removing bone fragments from his brain, Mikey miraculously made it through the night and was on the road to recovery. But that journey wasn’t going to be easy. As for how Friedman was feeling at the time, he describes it as, “being emotionally invested in an animal I’ve never even laid my eyes on.”
More than a week later, Mikey arrived at the sanctuary, but he soon developed respiratory issues that were attributed to his breed’s short, upturned, Bulldog-like snout. Once stabilized at the hospital, Mikey was again sent back to the sanctuary, this time with a prescription for routine nebulizer treatments, which required Mikey to breathe in a mist of medication using a special machine and mask. Thanks to the addition of crushed banana or peanut butter on the mask, Friedman says, Mikey had no complaints with his new treatment plan.
Mikey experienced some spinning and wobbly movements, as well as a head tilt as a result of his traumatic brain injury. Yet despite all that he’d been through in his short life so far, Friedman says he wasn’t worried about Mikey’s ability to thrive at the sanctuary.
“I'm confident in my abilities of rehabbing [our animals]—failure wasn’t an option” he says. For what it’s worth, Friedman notes, that same resilience is steadfast in Mikey, too. “Just knowing his personality [now], he was not giving up—not feeling good was not an option,” he says.
And Mikey clearly knew Friedman had his back. The piglet spent much of his early rehab months actually sleeping next to Friedman in his bed. “That’s all he wanted. He would cuddle up on my shoulder and just sit there and look at me all night,” says Friedman.
With regular rehabilitation and training, Mikey not only became more stable on his feet, but the tilting of his head also straightened. With this progress, he joined the other pigs in the barn and developed a sweet friendship with Petey, another Kunekune pig.
Today, Mikey is fully recovered, says Friedman—and he’s living his best life. “He’s just so freaking cool!” says Friedman. “He’s literally one of the coolest animals you’d ever meet. Whether you’re a pig person [or a] dog person, he’s got fans from around the world. He’s just happy.”
While Mikey’s story has a happy ending, Friedman knows that more education around raising a pig is needed to ensure the health, safety, and happiness of every pet.
Preparing financially and logistically for any new pet in your home is crucial, but Friedman emphasizes that pigs are often at the forefront of the rescue crisis due to the spread of misinformation regarding so-called “micro pigs,” which sellers falsely claim will remain small throughout adulthood. However, when families bring home a 15-pound pig that eventually grows to be 200 pounds, these pigs can quickly find themselves in dire situations.
“You have a better chance of buying a unicorn than a micro pig,” Friedman says frankly. “[Some people are] out there promoting an animal that doesn't exist.”
Nevertheless, Friedman wants people to understand that with proper education, pigs can indeed be amazing pets. “They’re smart, they’re lovable, they’re funny,” he says. “You can’t get a better pet.”
Make a Difference for Homeless Pets
There’s no pet quite like Mikey—but his story isn’t unique. Thousands of pets across the country need the support of animal shelters, rescues and sanctuaries. If you’re inspired by Mikey’s story, consider donating to an organization in your community. You can also shop Arthur’s Acres Animal Sanctuary’s Chewy Wish List to send the lifesaving supplies they need right to their doorstep.
More Shelter Success Stories