Tuesday, May 17, 2022

This is not your typical ‘Three Little Pigs’ story, but it’s a ‘Life with Pigs’ for this Williamsburg man

The new Life With Pigs Animal Sanctuary will bring guests in to interact with the animals on Friday. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ryan Phillips)

When Ryan Phillips looked around his condo and saw three pigs, a rabbit, a dog and a chicken he decided it was time to move.

But not only did he move to a bigger place, he started the only Animal Sanctuary in James City County out of his home.

“We wanted to find a place where we could have individuals from the major categories of animal agriculture to be the voices for their own species,” Phillips said.

Phillips has been a known vegan activist in Williamsburg, often seen walking his three pigs around Colonial Williamsburg and promoting him nonprofit Life With Pigs, which aims to educate about mini pigs and animal activism.

Ryan Phillips can be seen around Williamsburg with his three pigs, promoting animal rights and veganism. (WYDaily/Courtesy Ryan Phillips)
Ryan Phillips can be seen around Williamsburg with his three pigs, promoting animal rights and veganism. (WYDaily/Courtesy Ryan Phillips)

For the past few years, Phillips and his family have lived alongside his three pigs and other animals in their condo. But when the chicken Beatrice came into their lives after being rescued from slaughter, they knew it was time to take the next step.

“We knew we couldn’t not give her a home and we realized it was time to go in the direction of giving more animals in need a home,” he said.

Now, Life With Pigs has become an animal sanctuary, housing six chickens and four turkeys in addition to the animals the family was already taking care of. This is different from shelters where animals are looking for homes, because a sanctuary is where the animals’ get to live “a happily ever after life,” Phillips said.

Phillips and his family moved to their new location on Oct. 5 and immediately began setting up accommodations for the animals. The family spent around $4,000 to set up their 1.5 acres with barns, fencing and other amenities to make sure the animals had everything they needed to feel comfortable.

But during the interim, the animals lived inside with the family and created a close bond.

“That (bond) better enables me to share their story and let others see the person inside these animals that look different than us but yet share so much in common,” he said.

The animals live with Phillips and their family, which builds a close bond that helps to make them feel comfortable with humans after escaping usually dire situations. (WYDaily/Courtesy Ryan Phillips)
The animals live with Phillips and their family, which builds a close bond that helps to make them feel comfortable with humans after escaping usually dire situations. (WYDaily/Courtesy Ryan Phillips)

Each animal tells a story

Phillips wants to share the animals and is inviting the public to come to his home and interact with them during designated hours. This is something Philips plans to do regularly in hopes that it will help people put faces to their food.

“We want to show people that when you put a pig and a dog next to each other, there’s not much difference,” he said. “So why is one food and the other a pet?”

The animals at the sanctuary have all been saved from slaughter or improper care. They come to Phillips through a network of animal activists that have rescued the creatures and need to find homes for them.

Philips plans to host events in the future that will share different sides of these animals to those in attendance.

On Nov. 18, the sanctuary will have a “Thanks-living” event, which will involve learning about the turkeys at the sanctuary.

“We want people to spend time with them and learn about a holiday that centers on the turkey but is usually a turkey’s worst nightmare,” he said.

The family worked on building the proper amenities for the animals from the first day they moved into their new home. (WYDaily/Courtesy Ryan Phillips)
The family worked on building the proper amenities for the animals from the first day they moved into their new home. (WYDaily/Courtesy Ryan Phillips)

The first opportunity to visit the sanctuary will be Friday from noon to 2 p.m. Those planning to attend need only to message Phillips to let him know and sign a safety waiver beforehand, which can be found online.

For Phillips, he hopes this will be the first of many events that not only allow humans to fall in love with the animals, but allow the animals to see humans differently, too.

“A lot of them are coming from experiences where they’ve just been in a dark shed and the only human interaction was usually not in their best interest,” Phillips said. “We want to change that for them, give them a better life and show them people can be good.”

Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

Related Articles

MORE FROM AUTHOR