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Local rescue pig overcomes hardship to become a social media sensation

With his huge following on social media, Rutabaga is showing everyone the importance of a second chance.

They are trying to save a variety of animals at Randy’s Rescue Ranch in O’Fallon, Illinois.

“We have a draft horse, four thoroughbreds, there’s the cattle, four pigs out here,” said Erin Celuch, who works at the ranch.

One of the pigs is named Rutabaga, and he stands out from the rest. 

“He is such a social happy pig. He’s got huge personality,” Celuch told 5 On Your Side.

Rutabaga is also sort of a ‘ham.’ He taught himself how to stand up on his hind legs and look out of his pen in the barn. The ranch put a video of him on TikTok and it has gotten millions of views.

“He became a celebrity,” said Celuch.

But the 500-pound pig wasn’t always so popular. He arrived at the ranch about a year ago after someone dumped him off at the gate.

“Staff showed up in the morning to do the morning shift, there was this tiny piglet in a crate, freezing,” Celuch said.

Each animal at the ranch comes from tough a background. They came with broken spirits. “They’re just defeated,” said Celuch.

In many cases, the animals were simply abandoned.

“Being left behind. We don’t often think about what happens to cows, pigs or to horses in the event of an accident or in the event of not being wanted anymore. We’re taking animals that are often discarded and giving them a second chance,” explained Celuch.

“This place is all about hope. This place is about healing,” she added.

She says she sees the changes in the rescued animals every day. “You literally see just the energy and the light comeback,” she said.

“A lot of them still have a lot to give,” Celuch told 5 On Your Side.

She believes seeing the animals become comfortable and healthy is the highlight of the job.

“It’s a feeling. You know that you contributed to something bigger,’ she said.

Watching Rutabaga’s progress taught her something about facing her own challenges.

“Not to give up,” she said.

And with his huge following on social media, Rutabaga may be showing everyone the importance of a second chance.

“He’s a little bit of a picture of what possibility is,” she said.

Rutabaga is currently in the running to be crowned America’s favorite pet.  He made the top 20 this week.  If you’d like to vote for him or learn more about animal rescue, click here to visit the ranch's website.

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