Alone, abandoned, and tied to a tree in a Brooklyn park in the pouring rain, Officer Cal sheep could not possibly have imagined the comfortable, love-filled life that awaited him. No one knew how he got there, but some believed that they knew why: the locals had heard of people who purchased farm animals from live markets across the city for use in ritual sacrifice. It’s possible that Officer Cal would have become the latest victim. While it is unknown exactly how he ended up bound to a tree on a fateful night, we do know that what lies ahead for Officer Cal is so much better than whatever fate lies behind him. All it took was a hero: Officer Danny Calamine of the New York Police Department’s 60th Precinct, who freed his now-namesake, brought him out of the rain and showed this individual that the law was on his side.
Officer Calamine saw this sheep as he would anyone else in his charge: as someone who needed and deserved his help. It did not matter that he walked on four legs instead of two — or that those legs belonged to a sheep, and not a dog or a cat. Not everyone feels this way; it’s no secret that there are more laws in place to protect animals typically considered “pets,” compared to those typically used for “food.” Thanks to compassionate leaders like Officer Calamine, however, we can show that these differences are arbitrary; that all beings, no matter who they are, deserve our care, protection, and a life free from harm.
Officer Cal — the sheep — was the eighth farm animal in less than a week rescued by the Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC). Just days before Officer Cal was found, they took in a young goat named Alondra who escaped a Bronx live market and now lives at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter. We have an ongoing partnership with the ACC, an organization which has helped us rescue and place more than 1,000 farm animals over the past decade. We are grateful that they knew they could count on us to help Officer Cal in his time of need. Likewise, we knew we could count on our frequent rescue partners — Tracey Stewart, Maggie Stewart, and Vyolet Savage of the Hockhockson Farm Foundation — to pick Officer Cal up and help us bring him home.
Rescues like Officer Cal’s rely on the strength of our network; including the bystanders who witness animal abuse in the city and report it to local authorities. The recent surge of rescues in NYC was partially fueled by the increased awareness of farm animals as individuals and the public’s commitment to protecting individuals spotted on the loose. Through public engagement on social media platforms, stories like Officer Cal’s come to the attention of rescuers more quickly.
When Officer Cal arrived at the ACC, it was clear that he did not know that he was safe just yet. Sheep are prey animals, so instinct tells them to mask any signs of weakness that could leave them vulnerable to attack. Officer Cal did everything in his power to appear strong and unscathed despite the fear and pain he experienced. His adrenaline was running so high that he hid a limp caused by painful hoof rot.
We brought Officer Cal to Cornell University’s Nemo Farm Animal Hospital, where his veterinarians first ran routine blood work and testing and assessed his vitals to determine the level of care needed. Once he was stable, radiographs were performed to rule out any infection in the bones of the foot (thankfully, there were none) all done while he was under anesthesia to be neutered. For now, he is also very frightened of humans so once he calms down a bit, we’ll also give him some much-needed TLC to clean up his dirty, matted wool and overgrown hooves so that he can begin his new life at Farm Sanctuary healthy and happy.
At Farm Sanctuary, Officer Cal will join the ranks of farm animals like Mo Justice rooster and Alexander Beans steer, who came to us by way of New York’s Finest. We’ll share his story to help people see farm animals as someone, not something — as individuals who value their own lives and will do everything in their power to keep them.
Right now, Officer Cal is still understandably shy and wary of people. We hope that, in time, he will come to know that we are here to help him, and we will do everything we can to allow him to feel secure. Whether Officer Cal grows to like people or not, he will always receive the care and respect that he deserves. We are excited to introduce him to a flock, as being around fellow sheep will help him feel more at ease — and we hope he’ll soon know that at Farm Sanctuary, he is safe for life.