Thanks to the advent of modern farming, most people can easily get through their lives without ever coming into contact with a real-life cow. With the exception of seeing them like tiny specks along the side of highways, the only exposure we get to these animals comes in the form of milk and cheese labels. We’ve all seen them, the idyllic farm cartoons that feature cows with impossibly large grins – in some cases, the label-cows are even pictured jumping for joy. As consumers, we take comfort in this imagery. We see cows as perfectly content beings who love nothing more than to produce dairy for human consumption. Sadly, this idea of a cow’s “life” that we’re sold is hardly the reality.

Cows in the dairy industry spend the majority of their short lives in a constant cycle of impregnation and milking. For a cow to produce milk, she has to have a baby – just like humans. Unfortunately, although they are tremendous and highly instinctual mothers, cows are only allowed to keep their babies for a matter of minutes before they are separated. This emotional and painful experience has led many mothers to cry out for days – in one case, the police even responded to the horrific noises mourning mothers were making.

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After they are ripped from their mothers, female cows are either raised as dairy cows or sold to become meat. In the case of males, since there is no hope that dairy farmers will make a profit from them, they are sold to become veal. Veal calves are relegated to impossibly small crates where they are tied and restricted from moving, fed only an anemic diet to keep their muscles from maturing. Not quite the happy cows we imagine, huh?

Although the dairy industry is rife with suffering, there are many organizations working to raise awareness for the truth and rescue animals from this existence. Santuario Igualdad Interespecie is a farm animal sanctuary based in Chile that works to rescue and rehabilitate the forgotten victims of animal agriculture. Most recently, they took in a small calf named Nicholas.

Poor Nicholas was severely ill when he came to the sanctuary. He had been taken from his mother, a dairy cow, far too soon and suffered from diarrhea, pneumonia, and blindness due to an advanced infection. The little calf has been left in a field to die, but Santuario Igualdad’s compassionate staff refused to give up on him.

Although Nicholas can’t see his caretakers, they make sure he can feel their love by showering him with snuggles and kisses.

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Nicholas is getting all the proper medical care he needs to fight off the infections in his body, but without his mother, his spirit is broken. The kind people at Santuario Igualdad hope that they can provide enough comfort and support for this wee one to keep him fighting for survival. Every breath, step, and bottle is a small victory for Nicholas, and we can only hope that they will all add up to help him pull through for good.

Seeing this innocent little creature in such a state, we can’t help but  wonder if it is really worth it just so we can have cheese? Especially when there are so many plant-based alternatives. If we could all see cows as the dynamic, emotional, and highly intelligent creatures they are, instead of mere commodities, the world would be a much kinder place.

To learn more about how you can help Santuario Igualdad Interespecie, click here.

All image source: Santuario Igualdad Interespecie

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