40 Starving Sheep Have Been Saved From A Backyard Slaughter Operation In New York’s Hudson Valley

In an amazing victory for farm animals, three organizations including an animal rescue, a law enforcement agency, and the district attorney’s office recently  secured the release of 40 starving sheep from a backyard slaughter operation.

After the gravely malnourished sheep were discovered wandering on a major thoroughfare in Saugerties, New York, the Ulster County SPCA and Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), one of the nation’s leading sanctuaries for farm animals, collaborated on an investigation.

At the outset, a veterinarian issued the sheep’s owner an “order to comply” with three conditions: put weight on the animals, deworm them, and treat debilitating and life-threatening hoof rot. When investigators returned one month later, nearly half of the original flock was missing, and the remainder were close to death. It was then that the veterinarian recommended for the immediate seizure or slaughter of the remainder of the flock.

Assistant District Attorney Felicia Raphael successfully negotiated the immediate surrender of the animals, and the forty remaining sheep were transported to Catskill Animal Sanctuary, where they received life-saving interventions, including blood transfusions.

“Once we learned of this horrific situation, we went into overdrive to bring them to safety,” Kathy Stevens, Founder of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, said in a statement. “We are beyond grateful to the SPCA for intervening on their behalf, and to Assistant District Attorney Raphael for handling their case.”

While Raphael believes the case should have resulted in a felony conviction, she explains that, “Unfortunately, someone who severely mistreats farmed animals cannot, in most cases, face a felony charge in New York. Until legislators strengthen animal abuse laws, prosecutions are limited. In this case, the primary goal was to rescue the 40 remaining victims. We achieved that goal, and the SPCA will regularly inspect the defendant’s farm to make sure any animals he may acquire in the future are being properly cared for.”

To prepare for the rescued sheep, CAS constructed quarantine paddocks, converted a former tool barn into a nursery, and ordered huge quantities of supplies, ranging from full-body quarantine suits to medications, to lots of extra hay. The vulnerable sheep received immediate treatment for life-threatening worm infestations, anemia, and hoof rot so extreme that several were physically unable to stand. Many others walked on their knees. Within days of their arrival, three sheep passed away, despite being given blood transfusions from healthy resident sheep.

Today, the remaining sheep are recovering.

“If you don’t know sheep, you don’t know what you’re missing,” stated Sanctuary Operations Director Andrea Burritt. “They are such gentle, soulful animals.” CAS also collaborated with two partner sanctuaries that adopted nine of the sheep: Farm Sanctuary welcomed seven sheep and Woodstock Sanctuary accepted two young male sheep.

Originally, Catskill Animal Sanctuary agreed to accept just fifteen sheep, but when it was presented with an “all or nothing” situation, CAS did what it has done for 22 years: it said “yes” on behalf of dozens of animals in urgent need.

“It’s pretty simple,” Stevens said. “They want their lives as much as we want ours….and, we believe they deserve them.”

A Christmas “baby boom” followed as many of the rescued sheep gave birth to tiny lambs. Eleven have been born to date.

Donations to support Catskill Animal Sanctuary and this life-saving rescue can be made HERE!

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