Holly: Police Find Calf-napped Youngster in Car

Cattle rustling may not be as common now as it was in the days of the Wild West, but it does still happen — just ask the Riverside, CA, police. In early November, two officers approached a pair of men standing by a sedan after one of the officers spotted a calf in the back seat. The Holstein-mix calf, just a few days old, had no identification, though telltale wounds indicated that ID tags had been forcefully removed from both of her ears. The men claimed they had bought her at a gas station but had no bill of sale. The police called Riverside County Animal Control to seize the calf and arrested one of the men on suspicion of possessing a cow without proof of ownership.

The calf, now named Holly, was brought to the county shelter temporarily and then sent to be fostered at a nearby dairy during the 14-day hold period that follows an animal confiscation. Though no one came forward to claim Holly, it was suspected that she had been stolen from a dairy farm.

Thanks to media coverage of the incident, Holly’s situation came to the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which contacted Riverside Animal Control to ask if they would relinquish the calf. The agency agreed, provided that placement could be secured — so PETA reached out to Farm Sanctuary. At the time, we had no room at our shelters to take on a new, permanent bovine resident, but we were able to offer Holly foster care. Continuing their search, PETA staff found Holly a forever home at Sanctuary One in Jacksonville, Oregon. We agreed to care for Holly at our shelter in Acton until she was ready to travel north.

On November 20, we drove to the Riverside shelter to pick up Holly and meet with PETA staff members, who accompanied us on the journey back to Acton. The next day, discovering signs of illness, we rushed Holly to the UC-Davis veterinary hospital, where staff discovered that Holly was infected with salmonella.


Holly is now at our Northern California Shelter in Orland, receiving treatment and soaking up some TLC. Despite her infection, she’s busy playing, learning, and growing (a lot!). Holly loves interacting with people and enjoys a good pet, especially under her chin. She has started gently engaging visitors in the “head-butt game,” a favorite among calves. Holly’s a big fan of formula but has also been experimenting with chewing on hay. She loves to run around her yard and eat fallen leaves — with a nice warm coat on, since it’s been cold and rainy at the shelter. Once Holly’s salmonella has cleared up, our staff will bring her to Sanctuary One. In the meantime, she’s thoroughly enjoying her extended stay here.

We’re so pleased we’ve been able to help Holly on her journey to a new home. With our three shelters in New York and California, expert staff, and access to some of the nation’s very best veterinary resources, we are able to spring into action when an animal is in need, providing lifesaving care and preparing each one for a wonderful, new life.