Amid much controversy and bad press…people seem to think that all farmers treat their animals with neglect or abuse. Please consider this: Are all people the same? Do all people treat dogs the same? Let’s use the dog analogy! I will bet that everyone under the sun heard all about a nameless (not really but I don’t want to play that game) well know football player gets charged with animal cruelty for fighting pit bulls. But…just how many people walked away from football because of his actions? Not many I bet.
Coming from a person who has seen first hand what animal cruelty really looks like and still lives with the aftermath of the long term effects it can have…Let me walk you through what some of us have done to overcome animal cruelty.
As many of us do, my first rescue was a dog. She was a beautiful black and tan coonhound that had been left with other dogs that were severely aggressive. She had to fight to get any scraps of food that her former owner would throw full a chain link fence. Most days she would go without food. She became a shy, yet food aggressive animal. When the owner contacted me, I was 11 years old. Can you imagine someone giving away a dog like that to a kid? I begged my dad to allow me to have her…I will never forget bringing that 40 pound beast home in the backseat of my dad’s little Ford Fiesta! She looked horrible and smelled even worse. She had earmights, fleas bad enough to make part of her hair fall off and scars that no dog should ever have. I still loved her immediately though. We connected somehow on some strange level that I have never been able to explain. This dog was my constant companion. The one true soul that loved me no matter what. After getting her cleaned up and slowly working with her to overcome her issues with food, she turned out to be one of the nicest and prettiest dogs you have ever seen! She lived with me for another 6 years until God decided that she had a better place to be.
It seemed to be a long time before I had the chance to have another dog. Again, I took in a rescue that, unfortunately, the owner didn’t seem to understand that hound dogs and 7 kids don’t always get along so well. They might have if the kids had been “punished” like the dog was. Bourbon came to me as a three year old mixed breed (bluetick/redtick) severely underweight at 35 lbs. He was a sweet dog. Not one that like being inside yet, loved his area outside where he could bark, run and play. He stayed with me for eight years before he finally passed away from cancer.
Whiskey came not long after Bourbon did. Don’t make fun of the names either…who else names their dog after alcohol they rarely drink? 🙂 Whiskey came as a very young pup along with her momma and five other pups. Their original owners were going to drown them in the creek behind their home and shoot the momma if someone had not taken them. I managed to find great homes for them all but the biggest of the bunch. Whiskey lived with us until the rip old age of 14, when she too gave up her battle with cancer. She was very much a part of our family, she used to share my oldest sons pacifer when he was a baby and she was just four or five months old. She is still loved and greatly missed.
The next rescue was Rosie. I had always dreamed of having a bloodhound of my own and several of the local SPCA’s and dog wardens knew it. One day out of the blue, I get a phone call from a warden about 30 miles away. He had a bloodhound that had been with them for nearly six months that wasn’t adoptable and would I come visit her. If she got along with me, I could have her. Needless to say, I was almost evicted from my own home but it was love at first sight. She came out of her stall, came looping over to me and put her big paws on my shoulders, laying her head up under my chin. She looked horrible but it didn’t matter to me. With tears in my eyes, I told them I would come pick her up the very next day. I got her into my vet, had her all checked out. Come to find out, she had been eating lyme to stay alive for nearly a week prior to the time the warden had picked her up. They had kept her, put about 15-20 pounds on her and she still only weighed in at a whole 50 pounds when I brought her home. Some really good food, lots of love and she now weights just shy of 100 pounds. She had been so severely beat at some point, that when I brought her home she wouldn’t even go to anyone else in the family. She still hides behind does at loud noises and is extremely terrified at her own shadow. She has done very well here on the farm. She adopts all of the animals, including the chickens and gets sad when she can’t visit them.
Then I got a phone call one day from a young man that knew all about my background growing up on a dairy farm. He explained about this girl who ran out of money to feed her cows due to bills for school. Instead of selling them, she just stopped feeding them. It was April of 2010 and the pasture grounds here in Upstate NY hadn’t even started to grow. This cow, who had two calves nursing, was literally starving to death to provide milk for those two calves. Immediately, we put up fencing and scheduled to have the cow and her calves delivered to us within a matter of less than 48 hours. When she arrived, she almost feel flat on her face as she came off the trailer. As I watched her walk out into a short grassed pasture area, the tears started welling up in my eyes. I couldn’t believe that someone could do this to an animal. We took care of her, gave her gain, hay and all the fresh grasses she wanted. Slowly, overtime she started looking much better and back to the way she should look. She recovered from a wound in her back that we managed to get a chunk of wood out of her back that was about 1/2 inches wide by at least two inches long. It’s amazing she could even walk considering this “chunk” didn’t miss her spinal column by much more than an 1/8th of an inch. As time went on, she regained her weight. She has the most amazing attitude. She loves to have calves around and loves her attention. She gets brushed daily and looks like a completely different animal.
Since then, we have adopted two calves and a bluetick coonhound from bad environments. I think some people just don’t have the respect for animals and the welfare that some do. The calves and the newest hound were not really treated horrible or starved to death but they we not given the proper care and attention that they really needed either.
I know this blog is long…but I just want to point out to those of you with a bad taste in your mouth for agriculture that not all of us within the industry are the same. Some of us really do care about our animals. If I have time later I will type up an article on how animals act. Kind of a dog vs. cow comparision that might really get some minds wondering!
Til then…God Bless and Have a great day!