Last month, we were fortunate enough to take a trip up to northern Maryland to visit a very special potbelly pig sanctuary. Cara’s boyfriend, Brandon, even joined us on the journey to deepen his own understanding of animal rights issues (little did he know, a life changing experience awaited him).
Whispering Rise Farm & Animal Sanctuary is 45 minutes north of Baltimore, just south of the Pennsylvania state line. It is nestled in the most beautiful landscape of mountains and hills and truly is a paradise for the rescued potbelly pigs that call these six acres of sanctuary “home”. Jeff Lambert started Whispering Rise in 2011. Prior to that, he was a social worker primarily involved in child welfare. At one point in his career, he worked at a facility where children struggling with behavioral problems participated in therapy involving rescued horses. Upon witnessing the healing that took place in these interactions, he knew that his next mission was to start a sanctuary of his own which would allow the public to have quality face time with some very special animals. After participating in a training program at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, he was ready to get started.
Once he took in the first couple of pigs, the floodgates opened up and the pigs just kept coming. There is an enormous need for responsible potbelly pig sanctuaries due to irresponsible breeding practices. Families become attracted to the idea of a fad pet and purchase one of these pigs under the impression that they will stay small through adulthood (i.e. “teacup” pigs). It can actually take up to 3 years for a potbelly pig to reach its adult size, and these families are totally unprepared for the 100+ pound pig that their piglet grows into. At the time of our visit, Jeff had 18 pigs in his sanctuary, but this number regularly fluctuates as new pigs come in and others find forever homes (yay!).
Jeff graciously welcomes and appreciates all of his visitors. Families with children stop by throughout the week to help feed the pigs and good friends visit to help with construction and other labor intensive tasks. During our visit we got to meet each of the pigs and become acquainted with their unique personalities, take part in pumpkin playtime, help with an excitement-filled feeding, and move some fencing to prepare for new residents. Jeff is a wealth of information and was extremely hospitable and kindhearted. Obviously, he is a genuine animal lover and is vegetarian himself. He even commented on how contradictory it would be to live among these intelligent and affectionate creatures and continue to eat them.
As I mentioned, Brandon made an extra special connection with one of the pigs (number 44076 to be exact). She followed him around like a little puppy and stood still as long as she needed to get maximum rubs, while leaning into his arm for support. It was truly magical to witness and on that day, Brandon decided that he could no longer continue eating the flesh of these creatures.
Jeff’s sanctuary is funded by donations only. If you are looking for a unique gift this holiday season, you can help sponsor a pig with a donation that fits your budget and for $100 you can name a pig!
Thank you to Jeff and the pigs for sharing your lovely sanctuary with us! We hope to visit again soon.