Sunday, September 26, 2010

Great Escape Stories

From Zoo Too News:

NASHUA, N.H.─ His great escape story made national news this summer, reported along with a spate of transport accidents that left livestock dead on the road or scrambling for their lives.

Jay, the bull, cheated death and arrived to a “hero’s welcome” earlier this month at his new home in a New York shelter, according to Meredith Turner, spokeswoman for Farm Sanctuary, the animal protection organization..

The 2-year-old escaped the slaughterhouse when a transport truck exploded on Interstate 94 last August. Eyewitnesses described the scene as “the worst they had ever seen,” Turner said. Eighteen cattle died in the crash and the fire.

Jay survived. Then he outwitted state police. According to officers, he tried to jump a three-foot high concrete barrier. When that failed, he bolted down the highway, she said. Six other cattle also tried to escape, but only Jay succeeded.

“Jay was gone four days. He ran 25 miles,” Susan Coston, director of Farm Sanctuary’s National Shelter, said. “He wanted to live.”

The bull did suffer burns in the accident. He underwent three weeks of treatment at Cornell University’s veterinary hospital before the trip to Farm Sanctuary. He is being kept away from the herd until his wounds have healed, she said.

“He has no hair on one side,” she said. “Some of the burns went down to the muscle. But

he’s bucking in the air; he’s happy,” Coston said.

For every Jay, dozens of other livestock caught in transport crashes are not so lucky. Their deaths are typically not even noticed unless the accident tied up traffic, Coston said.

No one knows how many U.S. livestock die in transport trucks or by falls onto the highway, but the industry expects to lose a certain percentage of “the product” on the way to market, she said.

“It’s carelessness,” she said. “People have become so desensitized to them, and that’s what happens when you make an animal a product and put a monetary value on its head. When I transport animals from here to California, I expect no deaths,” she said.

The government does not regulate livestock transports, according to both Coston and Rebecca McNeill, ASPCA media coordinator. McNeill said the ASPCA is supporting a new effort to protect horses during interstate transport. Cong. Mark Kirk of Illinois is the Horse Transportation Safety Act’s sponsor.

Meanwhile, Jay’s story may raise awareness about the cruelty animals suffer during a transport, Coston said.

“This process is probably one of the scariest in their lives,” she said. “It’s loud – with metal hitting metal. They can see out into traffic, so that’s terrifying. They pack them in so tight; some of them suffocate or are stepped on.” Coston has seen chicken crates loaded like bales of hay.

“Heads are sticking out; legs are sticking out; some of them are dead,” she said. “There’s no care, concern or sensitivity. I don’t know if we think they want to be eaten. They all have a will to live.”

Here’s a roundup of the latest animal escapes from transport accidents and slaughterhouses.

“Bob Harper,” piglet

“He was ten pounds, a tiny, tiny thing,” Coston said, “and he fell right into traffic. A car pulled over and grabbed him.” His rescuers took him to the local SPCA, and from there he went to a Chicago area rescue for farm animals before the staff made arrangements to move him to New York this September. He’s named after Bob Harper of reality television’s “Biggest Loser,” Coston said. Harper has volunteered at Farm Sanctuary.

“Kim Gordon,” piglet

Six-week old piglet “Kim Gordon” fell off a transport truck in South Dakota last July and was left behind. A couple on a rock ‘n roll concert tour stopped when they saw the animal running around a Mitchell, South Dakota back road. Lanore Hahn and her boyfriend put the piglet in their car, Turner said, and tried to find the owner.

An animal control officer examined the piglet and suggested it fell off a truck. The piglet was sunburned and covered with road rash. Hahn took the piglet home when she realized authorities would likely shoot it if she surrendered it. “Kim Gordon,” named after the Sonic Youth vocalist, arrived at Farm Sanctuary at the end of July.

“Little Orphan Angelo,” baby lamb

In September 2009, Angelo was born in a transport truck, Coston said. A family spotted him while they watched workers unload a trailer at a Yonkers, N.Y. market. The baby lamb went home to their apartment but eventually found a home at Farm Sanctuary.

“Molly,” cow

In May 2009, Molly slipped out of a Queens slaughterhouse and led police on a chase through Jamaica, according to Joseph Pentangelo, of the ASPCA. Pentangelo helped transport the 500 pound cow to a Calverton, Long Island farm.

She was delighted to find herself on a 60-acre organic farm, he recalled.

“When she got there, she bolted out of the trailer,” he said.

“Annie Dodge,” the cow

Annie Dodge lived through a Vermont winter by eating at bird feeders, she said.

“I couldn’t survive eight months outside in Vermont,” Coston said. “She just wanted to live. And she’s still here.”

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