As the moniker “Wonder Pig” suggests, Esther is kind of a big deal. The 650-pound pig has 464,000 Instagram followers and a bestselling book to her name. Her Canadian owners, Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, brought her home in 2012 thinking she was a miniature pig who wouldn’t grow larger than 70 pounds. When that went out the window, they kept her anyway and turned her into a social-media star. Now, they’re facing an unexpected battle: Esther has breast cancer, and the Canadian government won’t allow her to undergo chemotherapy treatment.
Her owners posted on Facebook that they were told it’s “illegal” to administer chemo to any animal that the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) considers a “food animal.” Esther, a swine, is considered legally a food animal and thus cannot receive treatment. She already underwent surgery after a scan—which required her owners to raise $650,000 to bring a giant veterinary CT scanner to Canada—revealed she has cancerous tumors. Jenkins and Walter stated they found out about the law when they took their other pet, a chicken named Anne, to the hospital and asked vets there to treat her for leukemia.
In response, Esther’s owners have launched a campaign to loosen CFIA rules in order to allow some livestock to be classified as companion animals like dogs or cats: “These blanket regulations are out of date, and they need to change. We have reached out to the CFIA to start discussions not only for Anne, but for Esther, and for any other animal that needs medical care/treatment, but we still haven’t heard back from them. It’s insane that every step of the way we (and anyone else who really cares for farmed animals) face roadblocks, just because they’re not typical ‘companion animals.’”
Her owners write that they are bracing for an uphill battle with CFIA, and call on Esther’s many global fans to “stay tuned, and start spreading the word.”