At Fullerton Union High School in California, the students take part in a Future Farmers of America program that sees each student assigned a farm animal.
Each student purchases their chosen animal and is then responsible for all aspects of it’s care. From feeding and cleaning, to learning to walk the animals, each student takes full responsibility as an owner.
The animals are hand raised for presentation at the Orange County Fair where they are judged and awarded depending on their achievements.
Then, unfortunately, after they are presented at the fair, the students’ training comes to an end and the animals are sent off to slaughter at the school’s FFA campus.
That was the procedure until one boy, who formed a special bond with his pig, decided to rescue it instead of send it off to slaughter.
16 year-old Bruno Barba and Lola the pig became fast friends, after he purchased her for the training program.
“She’s just made a huge impact on me by making me realise that they’re just like us. They have the same feelings as anyone else and they don’t deserve to get slaughtered.”
When Bruno witnessed the other animals being butchered right next to school he described the experience as “heartbreaking”, adding that his fellow students’ lack of empathy was appalling and surprising.
“I think it’s pretty sad because they don’t care – they really don’t care about it. I was just there, horrified of the experience” Barba said.
So Barba reached out to Farm Sanctuary, who usually don’t accept animals from the FFA program, because students rarely understand the implications of the course and go back the next year and repeat it.
This time however, Alicia Pell, the national placement coordinator for Farm Sanctuary, knew Barba’s story was different.
So Bruno and his mother happily bypassed the slaughter house where Lola was headed, and drove the six-hour journey to Orland, California – where Lola will see out her days happy and well cared for.