BROWNSBURG, Ind — If you’re thinking of tossing your old Halloween pumpkins in the trash - hold up. An adorable group of rescue animals will gladly take them off your hands!
Oinking Acres Farm Rescue & Sanctuary is a rescue group in Brownsburg. Founded in 2017, the nonprofit provides a suitable home for dozens of farm animals - 124 pigs, goats, sheep, a pheasant, a peacock, bunnies, chickens, a turkey named Jeb, donkeys, cows and horses who have undergone unimaginable trauma throughout their lives before finding sanctuary in Indiana.
One pig was headed to the slaughterhouse and jumped off a semi to escape, one pig was found nearly decapitated and off the side of the road, another rescued from a hoarding situation in Terre Haute alongside 38 other pigs.
They haven’t had easy lives. But the nonprofit’s founder and president Olivia Head, 19, said the group is doing their best to make sure the rest of their lives are the best they can be.
As one of the only animal rescues in the state that will take in pigs, Oinking Acres fields multiple calls daily from people looking to get rid of them.
“I would say on an average day, I get anywhere between two to 10 phone calls about unwanted animals - primarily farm animals, primarily pigs,” Head said.
Pigs are at particular risk of being abandoned because they grow bigger than anticipated, and have specialized needs that can't be met in small quarters.
“People think that they purchased a teacup pig, and it's gonna stay 30 pounds forever. And that is not the case at all. Most potbelly pigs, full-grown, are gonna weigh anywhere between 80 to 150 pounds plus, so they do get quite large,” Head said.
Others eagerly adopt a pig not realizing their HOA or apartment complex will not allow them to kept there.
“A lot of times, people rent and they don't check with their landlord before they go out and purchase the pig. So, I'd say those are the two biggest reasons why people are having to get rid of their pigs,” Head said.
Although most of the pumpkins donated will go to pigs as a treat, all the animals adore them. So far the community has donated thousands of pumpkins over the course of the holiday season, and it's a welcome treat for the pigs.
"They're very filling for the pigs. And they're a nice treat. It's something that is a seasonal thing, so it's not like they get it all the time, so they really enjoy it," Head said. "It also serves as an enrichment too because it takes them quite a bit of time to eat them, so it keeps them busy and entertained for a little bit."
Support from the community has been crucial in building Oinking Acres up from a small operation to one that now is capable of building individual mini-apartments for the pigs to live out their best life.
At one point, Head thought she wanted to become a marine biologist, tracking whales and living on the west coast. Instead, she's living out life in a landlocked state and tasked with guarding animals most of us overlook. But it doesn't, she said, mean they matter any less.
With every new rescue, there’s a new heartbreaking story. Until the world is a little kinder, Head said, she’ll be there for them. But she could use some support.
“It’s a lot. But someone does have to do it. People, you know, literally right here in Brownsburg, people all over the state surrounding states, like us or are following on Instagram and Facebook. We have people that follow us and support us, you know, that don't even live in the United States. So, we're really fortunate to be backed and supported by such an awesome community," Head said.
Pumpkin donations will likely slow down after the first week of December. If you're interested in donating to the animals at Oinking Acres, any type of fresh produce will do.