Jen Sale really hated going to the auction house because it was smelly, dirty and all the animals there were terrified.
“Almost everyone is there to purchase animals for slaughter,” Sale, CEO, and founder of Sale Ranch Animal Sanctuary said. “It’s a scary, awful place.”
Sale and a few of her animal lover friends went to the California auction house to rescue a newborn calf. They planned to feature the calf in a film about the dairy industry.
The group bid and won the release of a 2-day-old baby calf, they named Pistol Annie. While they were about to leave, Sale saw another calf being pushed into the bidding pen. The calf was about 3 or 4 months old. She had big eyes, a freckled nose, and very wobbly legs.
“My heart exploded with sadness and pain,” Sale said. “She was shaking so hard, barely able to hold herself up, and foaming at the mouth. I knew in that moment I had to save her. There was no way I was leaving her there.”
Sale put in a bid for the calf and others bid against her. Sale refused to stop bidding. “I was determined to bring her home to the ranch,” Sale said.
Her determination paid off and she won the calf’s freedom. Because Sale had not intended on rescuing a second animal, she had no way of getting the calf, named Mercy, back to the sanctuary. That is when a friend saved the day by lending her a trailer, and both Mercy and Pistol Annie went to their new home together.
Sadly, they were not out of the woods yet, when they arrived at the sanctuary, both animals were weak and sick with pneumonia.
The calves were tended to by a vet to help them get better. They examined Mercy’s wobbly limbs and it appeared that Mercy was born with contracted tendons in both front legs. Sale also suspected that Mercy had been kept inside a veal crate before ending up at the auction house, which made her legs a lot worse.
“Her legs are significantly deformed from … spending the first 3 to 4 months of her life in a small crate, which has deformed them more,” Sale said. “She also doesn’t lift her head — we think she had a chain to keep her confined, and always on her left side.”
Pistol Annie took a turn for the worse and unfortunately, she started showing symptoms of Clostridium, a bacterial disease that can be deadly. A week later, she passed away.
Mercy tested positive for Clostridium too, and Sale worried that Mercy was going to die as well. But Mercy had a strong will to live, according to Sale, and the vet team worked hard to save her life. After a few days, Mercy’s fever finally broke and she regained her appetite.
“She has finished her treatments … and is showing such positive improvement,” Sale said. “She is brighter … and is standing up on her own several times a day.”
Mercy remains in quarantine and has not yet met the other sanctuary animals. Sale spends as much time with her as possible.
“Today I got to kiss her forehead and it was magical,” Sale said. “She is [a] beautiful and sweet baby who is so gentle. To see her go from fearful of people to seeking attention in such a short time is incredible.”
Once Mercy is better, Sale and the vet team will do their best to try and heal Mercy’s legs. Everyone remains optimistic.
“Mercy is a beautiful blessing and is looking more like a Christmas miracle with each passing day,” Sale said. “I cannot wait to see her healthy and out in pasture with [the other cows] Cherry, Faith and Hope. She has friends waiting to love her.”
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