“Sometimes I honestly just cry looking at them, from happiness.”
When Elena Tova rescued a sick pig on a whim nearly 15 years ago, she had never heard of the concept of an animal sanctuary. “Sanctuaries didn’t exist in Spain. The word didn’t exist,” she says, explaining she’d only ever heard “santuario” used in a religious context.
Tova found the young pig, whom she later named Benito, at a farm on the outskirts of Madrid she’d been touring as a place to build a shelter for rescued cats and dogs. All of the farm’s pigs had been sent to slaughter the day before, except Benito, because he had an infection and wasn’t fit for human consumption. The owners were about to kill him. Tova convinced them to give the pig to her instead.
She searched for shelters to take Benito in. None existed. “We realized we couldn’t take him anywhere, so this was the beginning of the sanctuary,” Tova says. Fundación El Hogar, founded in 2007, became the first sanctuary for farmed animals in Spain…