Marooned Pigs Rescued… and then Returned to Neglectful Owner

Marooned Pigs Rescued… and then Returned to Neglectful Owner

Just off the coast of California in the San Joaquin Delta, half a dozen pigs struggled to survive on a small island for years. Their only food was roots and whatever curious boaters gave them. However, an animal rescue and protection organization, Farm Sanctuary, took the initiative to rescue the stranded pigs. Now, a growing controversy over the rescue leaves the pigs to an uncertain fate.

Pigs put on island to control vegetation

In an interview with CBS Sacramento, Roger Stevenson claims to be the owner of the pigs. He says he and the owner of Walter’s Island brought the pigs there about four years ago to control the vegetation. They believed the pigs would eat roots on the island.

However, in a request for donations to help the pigs, Farm Sanctuary’s National Shelter Director Susie Coston writes that “although the pigs likely cleared a few plants they are not aquatic mammals.” According to her statement, the original pigs actually died out – only their offspring survive.

Pigs struggled to survive, mistreated by visitors

Conditions on the island were not suitable for the pigs, and the situation was complicated further by visitors to the island. While some people had good intentions and brought food to the pigs, others acted irresponsibly and cruelly.

Coston says people have ridden the pigs, harassed them, given them beer, and even hunted them.

Pigs on Walter's Island, California

Pigs on Walter’s Island were often mistreated, and even given beer until Farm Sanctuary rescued them. Picture courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.

Pigs rescued and sent to UC Davis

Farm Sanctuary took matters into their own hands. Over the course of two days, they rescued the frightened pigs using a chute system. Safely back on land, the pigs took their first visit to the veterinarian. Farm Sanctuary planned to find the pigs forever homes through their adoption network.

Pigs face a long struggle ahead

However, the pigs may have another struggle to face. The man claiming to be their owner filed a stolen report.

Coston claims she acquired the pigs legally, with permission from the family that owns Walter’s Island. For all intents and purposes, the pigs were abandoned on the island and malnourished.

“We do own the pigs. We got the pigs by legal means,” Coston told the Sacramento Bee. “You can’t come back four years later and say these are mine.”

Unfortunately, the sheriff’s department sees things differently. According to the Guardian, law enforcement found Stevenson to be the rightful owner and Farm Sanctuary has to return the pigs.


Note: Please keep comments peaceful and family friendly.

Join the Conversation


  1. Diane

    If these marooned pigs belong to whats-his-name Stevenson then why has he left them without food, medicine and his supervised care? If they are his, arrest him for animal cruelty. If they are not his, support their relocation.

    Reply Report comment
  2. Judy Gerdes

    In doubtful ownership, possession is 90% of ownership.

    Reply Report comment
    • Anita

      It sucks is right. Give those poor little pigs to someone who will them they deserve that. Don’t you think?

      Reply Report comment
  3. DJ

    Is this sheriff’s dept really that stupid???..doesn’t California have laws in affect for animal cruelty???…The idiot who originally owned the pigs basically abandoned them or he would have protected them from visitor cruelty, and if Walter’s Island owners gave permission for the rescue as far as I am concerned, Roger Stevenson can go take a flying leap, the jerk.

    Reply Report comment
  4. Judy Canon

    G-D forbid someone tries to do a humane act. Please keep the fight up.

    Reply Report comment

    The sheriff needs a wake up call, he either did not have all the facts, or like a lot of people just thinks of the situation, “they are just pigs”!! These porkies need a stronger voice to stand up for them. The owner is a dill!!

    Reply Report comment
  6. MS

    What a tragedy — I strongly believe the pigs NEED to be with FARM SANCTUARY, an org. that has an excellent reputation for caring & loving animals — WHAT is the next step for us? — WHO is looking out for the pigs & THEIR best interests? — Clearly, Stevenson is doing a poor job of caring for the pigs — what a shame the Judge isn’t placing the needs of the pigs FIRST in his ruling — WHAT do we DO next to get the pigs to return to FARM SANCTUARY?

    Reply Report comment
  7. Catherine

    humans are definitely completely stupid and totally unaware 🙁 what a shame…unendless shame …
    As well as said MS (below 🙂 ) WHAT do we DO next to get the pigs to return to FARM SANCTUARY?

    Reply Report comment
  8. Suzanne GRUNBERG

    please help these pigs go to a caring environment.

    Reply Report comment
  9. Carmel

    I totally agree with Diane, charge him with cruelty and a stiff fine or let them live in a safe environment .

    Reply Report comment
  10. Ellen McConnell

    Horrendous judgement by Sheriff. Those abandoned, & mistreated pigs should be removed from the person claiming to be owners. Why wasn’t there a charge of ANIMAL CRUELTY?
    Release the pigs to Farm Sanctuary to give them kind & caring human companions!

    Reply Report comment
  11. Debra Atlas

    Certainly the welfare of the pigs isn’t being considered by the so-called owner. Clearly he sees them as things to solve a problem while Farm Sanctuary sees them as innocent, malnourished creatures that deserve care and compassion.

    Let’s hope that Farm Sanctuary can somehow retain custody and take care of these poor animals.

    Reply Report comment
  12. Beth parker

    Why return those poor pigs to where they’ll again be mistreated? Wake up, people!

    Reply Report comment
  13. Alexandra Nicole

    The so called owner needs to be held accountable for animal abuse period! These little pigs need to be in a loving environment with food and shelter and live a happy life. SHAME ON THE OWNER AND THOSE WHO SAID THEY NEED TO BE RETURNED. DISGUSTING!

    Reply Report comment
  14. NANCY

    i do have to say this is one fucked up story. farm sanctuary should have sued the owner. now i’m sure they will wind up dead. humans are fucked up. i feel bad for the pigs. what a life they will live with the fucking owner. if he returns them to the island, maybe he’ll drown. sorry for my poddy mouth peeps

    Reply Report comment
  15. Phyl

    Animal abusers MUST be harshly punished…heavily fined & long time jailed. Keep pressure on world governments to
    make strong laws protecting all animals.

    Reply Report comment
  16. Debra Atlas

    How horrendous. If they truly were that person’s pigs, wouldn’t it behoove them to take responsibility for them and their care? You cannot simply abandon animals then “reclaim” them when it’s convenient.

    Surely something else can be done. Can’t animal control monitor them to ensure they’re taken care of? I really hope this isn’t the end of the story.

    Reply Report comment
  17. Nini

    What?!! Returned to this pitiful and spiteful man??!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! What is wrong with the police here????

    Reply Report comment

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