One man’s 2,500 mile journey to save his pet pig from Hurricane Irma
When Jeff Martin heard about Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, he instantly knew he had to travel across the country to rescue his pet pig, Dallas.
“It was a 2,500 mile voyage, but I would have gone even further if I had to,” Jeff says over the phone. At the time, he’d just gotten home from a chaotic 30-hour drive from Miami to Detroit with a 175-pound boar beside him.
[Dallas wedges himself between the front 2 seats]
“I live in Miami, and we have a crazy neighbor who wouldn’t let us have dogs, so we got the pig,” Jeff explains.
When Jeff got him, Dallas weighed only 2 pounds and fit in the palm of your hand. But as Dallas grew bigger and Jeff and his girlfriend started their family, he worried that the giant pig might step on the newborn baby. So Jeff moved the pig to a Miami hog heaven — a farm with a modest rent of $200 per month for a sleeping pen, room to run and plenty of food to eat.
[Dallas as a little piglet]
Jeff was staying in Detroit, MI, when he heard about Hurricane Irma. He called the farm where Dallas was staying, and learned that farm animals can’t evacuate hurricanes because there’s nowhere else for them to go. So Jeff flew down to Miami to drive his pet pig back up north to Detroit. He called this cross-country undertaking “Operation: Save Dallas.”
[Jeff and Dallas always loved car rides together]
The rainy morning of Wednesday, September 6th — Irma is a category 5 hurricane ripping apart the Caribbean islands — when Jeff arrived at Dallas’ farm. “I hadn’t seen Dallas in a month, so when he heard me yelling his name, he started running back and forth with excitement, and oinking so much he nearly hyperventilated,” Jeff says.
After an hour of struggling to get the soaking wet, oddly shaped, and extremely heavy hog into his car, Jeff and Dallas were headed north. The only issue was — so were millions of other terrified Floridians.
[Traffic on the northbound Florida Turnpike: Sun Sentinel]
Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm now larger in size than the entire state, was headed toward Florida for a direct hit. This meant 150 mph winds that tear away roofs, snap and uproot every tree in sight, and reduce buildings to rubble. South Florida, home to over 6 million people, was understandably panicked.
“Getting out was an absolute nightmare,” Jeff says. “Two thirds of the gas stations are out of gas. At the few stations that do have gas, at least 200 cars are waiting in line. You don’t want to wait two hours to fill up, but you also don’t want to run out of gas with a hurricane coming.”
Soon enough, people in fear of an oncoming disaster begin to get desperate. “They don’t care about lanes, who has the right of way, or traffic laws at all,” Jeff explains. “It’s bumper to bumper traffic, road rage is at an all-time high, and everyone’s on their phones. I saw at least 20 people rear-end the car in front of them. It was like bumper cars out there.”
What’s more, nearly everyone Jeff passed couldn’t help but stare at the giant hog in the car beside them. “You see people doing triple-takes to see if you actually have a pig in your front seat,” he laughs.
Thirty hours and 1,400 miles of madness later, Jeff and Dallas made it back to Detroit. “I just drove across the country to get my pig to safety, and people are surprised that I’d do this, but I’m just as surprised that anyone wouldn’t,” Jeff says. “Dallas is my pig, and I’m his human.”
Although a powerful hurricane might tear apart houses, trees and powerlines, it seems no natural disaster can break the bond between a man and his pet pig.