Sprout: Cows and Calves Saved from Starvation and Neglect in Pennsylvania

Though every step pained him, Sprout seemed to know that each one also brought him closer to sanctuary. The determined little calf could barely stand when he arrived at our New York Shelter in March 2004, but (with a little help from shelter caregivers) he bravely walked from the transport vehicle into our Rescue Barn.

Along with three other calves and 22 cows, many of them pregnant, Sprout had been seized from a farm in Butler County, Pennsylvania. When officers visited the property, they discovered the animals living in 3-foot-deep manure inside a stifling, crowded barn, their legs raw with fecal scald and their bodies gaunt. A rain barrel, their only source of water, was frozen solid, and no feed was to be found anywhere in the building. Some cattle there had already died.

The officers alerted Farm Sanctuary to the case, and we sprang into action. Since our shelters were at capacity, we launched a search through our Farm Animal Adoption Network (FAAN), placing hundreds of calls to adopters and shelters. Amid dozens of responses from compassionate network members, we were able to find homes for nearly all of the cattle. Ten of the cows and calves were transported to nearby homes right away, but the other 16 needed first to receive veterinary treatments and special care at our New York Shelter’s Rescue Barn.

Among them was Sprout. His back ankles bore large open sores and were swollen to twice their normal size with infection. Sprout was in so much pain that he had trouble eating and drinking. We took the ailing calf to our vets at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, where he was immediately checked into the intensive care ward and put on IV fluids and antibiotics. After a few days, when he was stable enough, Sprout underwent surgery to remove the infection.

The procedure was successful, and Sprout recovered well. After his ordeal of confinement, illness, disability, and pain, the young calf was at last able to run and play as all calves long to do. Soon he was also ready to journey to his new home, Godot Animal Sanctuary in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Accompanying him was fellow Butler County survivor Delilah, and awaiting him were Gracyn and her daughter Stylar, two more cattle from the same rescue. Quickly becoming inseparable, the four set about enjoying the big, beautiful pasture, the clean barn, and the love and protection that would be theirs forever more.