Not a week goes by when we don’t hear about farm animals involved in transport accidents across the country; recently, however, news hit especially close to home. Just hours away from our New York Shelter, more than a dozen calves fell from a truck bound for a veal plant, spilling out onto the highway during transit through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Sadly, some did not survive the injuries they sustained in the fall, and several others were taken to facilities where they will, unfortunately, most likely be used for meat. But a few calves escaped this fate and found temporary refuge with The ANNA Shelter, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit animal protection organization that worked with Farm Sanctuary to get them the care they needed.

All Holsteins, the breed most commonly used in the dairy industry, that group included three male calves and one female. Since they will not grow up to produce milk, male dairy-breed calves are often sold in infancy for veal or beef. Because the female calf was born in a pair of opposite-sex twins, she was also seen as useless to the dairy farm on which she was born; many female calves with twin brothers are sterile, and thus serve no purpose to an industry whose profits depend on a cycle of pregnancy, birth, and lactation. While most people oppose the cruelty of veal production, few realize that this industry exists because of the “surplus” calves that are an inevitable byproduct of the dairy industry.

Taken from their mothers shortly after birth and denied the immunity-boosting colostrum they would have obtained by nursing, these calves wound up being very sick, and sadly, one of the boys passed away before our Emergency Rescue Team arrived. Though we are devastated by this loss, we know that his death will not be in vain; he and his surviving brothers and sister will serve as ambassadors for the millions of calves just like them who pass through the industry unnoticed every year. They are each someone, not something.

Farm Sanctuary staffers brought the three surviving calves to Cornell University’s Nemo Farm Animal Hospital, where they received routine diagnostics and medical care.

Once stable, they’ll come home to our New York Shelter, where they’ll receive the individualized, lifelong care they deserve. These babies will receive the gift of sanctuary, and we encourage anyone who is touched by this holiday miracle to consider gifting a one-time symbolic sponsorship in honor of rescued farm animals experiencing comfort and joy this season.