When the Hillside SPCA in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania received a call about a situation of cruelty at a Pottsville farm, Humane Officer Denise Turkavage went to investigate. What she found was profoundly disturbing. Six male Holstein calves, several just days old, had been abandoned without food or water and left for dead. Some were tied to a tractor; others were shut in a garage. As male offspring of dairy cows are considered to be of little to no value to the industry, they are often killed shortly after birth or sold to be raised for veal or beef. These six helpless babies had been discarded like trash, and their lives hung in the balance.
After learning about the suffering calves, Farm Sanctuary immediately launched a rescue effort, and staff drove to pick up the calves halfway between the Pennsylvania farm and our New York Shelter. The calves we greeted were a terrible sight. Their eyes were sunken in from severe dehydration, and they were pale, coughing and extremely weak. They were fighting life-threatening infections, and most were unable to stand on their own. Four of the calves weighed less than they would have at birth, and their prognosis looked grim. Medical care was urgently needed to stabilize the calves, so our rescue team rushed them to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals for critical emergency care.
The following weeks were filled with constant care and anxious waiting as these sickly calves struggled to become well. But slowly, their fragile, battered bodies began to heal, and, in time, each came home from the hospital.
Sasha was limp and lifeless when rescuers found him. He was in so much pain from a severe E. coli infection that he refused to eat and had to be fed intravenously. He also suffered what veterinarians believed was a seizure, and though the cause is still unknown, he is now on antibiotics and anti-ulcer medication and doing much better.
When caregivers first saw Poncho, he was so weak that he could barely stand. Though his legs shook uncontrollably, he fought to stay upright because a serious infection in his umbilical cord made lying down incredibly painful. He was also battling severe anemia and underwent a blood transfusion. Since his treatment, he has not had any signs of reinfection.
For weeks, Amigo was stricken with pneumonia and other illnesses. Now on the mend, he is gaining weight and is very active. He really goes wild when he’s out to pasture, galloping about in a frenzy and spinning with all four feet off the ground.
Jasper, the tiniest of the six, continues to receive much-needed antibiotic treatment for lung abscesses. He is otherwise thriving, though, and loves spending time outdoors. Though he’s not as fast as his friends, he still runs and plays alongside them, determined to keep up.
The two oldest calves, Teddy and Filipe, were also the strongest initially. Though Teddy did have to go back to the hospital once more since coming to Farm Sanctuary, both boys are healthy and doing great.
Though they were so young that they had to be bottle-fed by caregivers for weeks, all six calves have recently graduated to bucket feeding and are now thriving in their new home. All are active and playful like the youngsters they are. When caregivers open the gate to the pasture each day, they can be found frolicking, jumping and kicking up their feet joyfully, just happy to be alive.
Thank you to everyone who came through for these boys in their time of need. By donating to Farm Sanctuary’s Emergency Rescue Fund, you helped give Teddy, Amigo, Poncho, Felipe, Sasha, and Jasper a second chance at life! Watch the above video of their journey and see what you helped make possible!