Following a hard-fought custody battle on behalf of four very lucky cows rescued from the beef industry earlier this year, Advancing Law for Animals (ALA) has honored Farm Sanctuary with a 2018 Animal Champion Award.

“These girls [named Amelia, Frida, Juno, and Jade] were part of ALA’s first ever slaughterhouse rescue, they have a very special place in our heart,” wrote ALA General Counsel Vanessa Shakib, whose group waived their court-awarded attorneys’ fees and asked Manning Beef for the release of cows instead. “We made a leap of faith that a caring home would fall into place. Farm Sanctuary literally came to the rescue and made sure Amelia, Frida, Juno, and Jade were taken care of. We are so thankful for [their] partnership; this victory would not have been possible without [Farm Sanctuary].”

This was a rare victory against factory farming for the incredible team of activists and ALA. It all started with a series of protest vigils outside of Los Angeles County-based Manning Beef. While these protests were peaceful and legal, the company tried to silence the activists’ right to free speech. On one occasion last September, a Manning Beef manager illegally parked a semi-truck on the sidewalk to prevent anyone from standing in front of the facility. Manning Beef later sued the activists for “disturbance” and hindering business.

Of course, for the billions of farm animals slaughtered for food each year, this business is quite personal. As such, the activists continued to hold their ground, knowing that Manning Beef’s activities against public participation were illegal. After filing an anti-SLAPP motion (protected by a California statute that prohibits strategic litigation against public participation) against Manning Beef, the activists and ALA won the lawsuit — and in exchange for lawyers’ fees, one of the attorneys negotiated that four cattle from Manning Beef be sent to sanctuary instead. Farm Sanctuary agreed to aid in the rescue by gathering them from the slaughterhouse, providing transport, securing homes, arranging and covering the costs of medical care, and housing them until they were ready to go on to their new homes.

Freedom was a long time coming for this fortunate four. All but Juno had formerly been used for dairy production. The beef industry commonly acquires so-called “spent” 4- or 5-year-old dairy cows for hamburger meat and pet-food production.

While we don’t know much about what happened before they came to Manning Beef, we can only imagine how harrowing a journey this must have been. Shockingly, farmers transport cattle to Manning Beef from locations as far away as Kansas. Many of the animals go without adequate food, water, and protection for over a day, and they’re handled with less regard than inanimate objects. Cattle are herd animals and are extremely family-oriented, yet most families are torn apart before or upon arrival; many are acutely aware that their loved ones are being slaughtered nearby. Thanks to our partnership with ALA, however, Frida and Amelia, and Jade and Juno — both bonded pairs — will stay together for life.

Recently, Jade and Juno moved to Charlie’s Acres in California. This sanctuary is a cherished member of our Farm Animal Adoption Network (FAAN), the largest collective of sanctuaries and private adopters in the country. It’s because of these incredible people and groups that we can extend our lifesaving rescue, education, and advocacy work to help more animals in need — just like Frida and Amelia, who will receive the extra individualized care and support they need at Farm Sanctuary.

Initially, we planned to place Frida and Amelia with one of our FAAN member sanctuaries, just as we had with Jade and Juno. As we got to know them better, however, it became clear that what was appropriate for one pair did not apply to the other. Unfortunately, both Frida and Amelia have had health and behavior problems that do not qualify them for outside placement. Upon arrival, Amelia had severe pinkeye — which can cause blindness in cows if left untreated — and required medication, eye injections, and antibiotics to help her heal. While her vision may remain a little cloudy, we are optimistic that she’ll recover and have a normal quality of life. Frida, on the other hand, has ongoing health issues that are not as easily resolved and will require more intensive care. She also has behavioral problems that would likely go unchallenged in a smaller group, but should resolve if she’s exposed to a larger herd like the one she’ll be a part of at our New York Shelter.

Frida, Amelia, Jade, and Juno will serve as powerful ambassadors for other farm animals like them — and we’re so glad they’ll each get the appropriate care they need, based on their specific needs. It’s all thanks to our FAAN members, who help us help more animals live the beautiful lives they deserve. Sadly, with more than nine billion farm animals slaughtered for food in the United States each year, it is impossible to save them all. What we can do, however, is provide lifelong, individualized care to the individuals spared from this fate, and encourage people to make compassionate choices in their honor.

It’s important to note that rescue work does not end with the act of rescue itself; it is our duty to ensure that these animals receive appropriate, loving, and individualized care for the rest of their lives. Taking in more animals than space or resources allow would be a disservice to the very animals we’re trying to help, as it is our job to ensure that they never again experience the circumstances they once faced. Our FAAN members are a crucial part of that promise. We conduct extensive screening of potential adopters to ensure that we only place animals in the best and most appropriate homes for them, to make sure they are able to live the happy, healthy lives they deserve. In adopting rescued farm animals, FAAN members not only help their new animal family members, but also create space at Farm Sanctuary’s shelters so we can say yes to other farm animals in need.

We are so excited for Frida, Amelia, Jade, and Juno’s ongoing adventures in their new homes! Thanks to Charlie’s Acres and our entire FAAN family, we can expand our lifesaving rescue, education, and advocacy work to support a kinder world for all. Learn more about FAAN and how you can help farm animals in need here. Can’t adopt, but still want to help support a rescued farm animal? Learn how you can sponsor a Farm Sanctuary resident here. A compassionate world begins with you!