Sirens, flashing lights and feelings of terror set the scene on an Indiana interstate early last month when a transport truck holding 34 cattle into another vehicle and burst into flames. Of the traumatized survivors, several were found walking along the highway in a daze, still smoldering or on fire. Others, with wounds so severe that their bones showed through skin, lay helplessly on the ground, slowly dying from their injuries. Eighteen others didn’t even make it out of the wreck at all.
But sadly, the horror for these animals didn’t stop there. As emergency responders came to the drivers’ aid and began to clear up the wreckage, the cattle who survived this nightmarish ordeal were rounded up and loaded on yet another truck bound for slaughter … all except one.
Out of all the chaos, confusion and ashes rose a lone 2-year-old Holstein bull, who despite being covered in excruciatingly painful burns, was so determined to preserve his own life that he made a run for it and set authorities on a 12-hour chase before finally being captured and taken to a local animal shelter. From there, with area citizens rallied behind him and pleading for his life, the bull was spared the fate of his fellow crash victims and relinquished to Farm Sanctuary instead.
Knowing that the bull was likely terrified, suffering and in desperate need of expert medical attention, our Emergency Rescue Team set off immediately to pick him up and transport him straight to the Cornell University Hospital for Animal’s state-of-the-art facilities in New York for emergency care. When he arrived, the terrified bull was in even worse shape than we imagined, so doctors swiftly started him on antibiotics, IV fluids and medications to manage his pain while devising a more long term care plan.
In the coming days, the extent of the bull’s injuries became more apparent, as his damaged skin began to slough off and reveal burns that covered him from head to hoof and, in some places, extended down to the muscle. Fortunately, we also learned that while the road to recovery would be long, his prognosis was really good – there was little doubt in his doctors’ minds that he could recover and live a full life. So, with hope in our hearts, we named our courageous new friend Jay and set upon the work of seeing him through this difficult time so that he could one day have the kind of life he was always meant to live.
Over the course of the following weeks, Jay remained at Cornell so he could continue on treatments for his burns, which consisted of daily cleanings and dead skin removal, and his pain could be managed every step of the way. And since his injuries made him extremely susceptible to infection too, it was imperative that he stay in a sterile environment until he had further healed. During this time, we visited Jay to monitor his progress and were always happy to see that his tremendous spirit remained high.
Now, more than a month since the terrible night of the crash, we are excited to report that Jay has finally made it home! Arriving to a hero’s welcome at our New York Shelter, our valiant friend has settled into his very own spacious, straw-filled stall in the cattle barn, where he will continue to convalesce until he is ready to join the herd. But while he can’t cavort with other bovines quite yet, that doesn’t mean he isn’t already making lots of new friends. Touching noses and giving him kisses over the top of the stall walls and gates, our longtime residents have wasted no time bringing him into the fold.
Thrilled to be out the hospital and surrounded by fellow cattle, Jay is improving daily by leaps and bounds. He will continue to be treated topically for his burns on a daily basis and has to stay out of the sun for a few more months, but he is healing quickly and his energy increases every day. In fact, he loves nothing more than to run and buck like a young calf when we let him out into the main barn to exercise and now that he is no longer experiencing so much pain, his true personality is really shining through!
Bringing Jay to safety and giving him a chance to be happy after all he has been through is a joy that goes unmatched. He is truly one of the lucky ones – as all too often farm animals who survive transport accidents like the one Jay was involved in are denied medical attention and shot on site. Many more, like Jay’s former companions, are simply sent on to slaughter. As the sole survivor out of the group of cattle packed on that ill-fated truck in August, Jay will now become an ambassador for change, helping educate visitors to the sanctuary and people everywhere about the atrocities of animal transport and the need for better laws to stop the abuses that lead to such tragedies.
Jay’s story has certainly not come to end, but it couldn’t have taken a happier turn – all thanks to Farm Sanctuary members and supporters who made everything from his rescue to his treatment at Cornell possible. The generosity of compassionate people who came to Jay’s aid in his most dire time of need helped save his precious life, and we are so thankful that so many people cared so much. As Jay continues to be rehabilitated at Farm Sanctuary, we are still in need of funds to help cover the cost of his ongoing treatments, as well as food and housing expenses. If you would like to help, please donate to our Emergency Rescue Fund today. We are truly grateful for your support!