Before Maribeth was even born her fate had been decided: she would grow up, like her mother, to be a dairy cow. However, these plans hit an unexpected snag when Maribeth was born with a bacterial infection in her hind leg – an illness the dairy farmer never even thought to treat.
Seeing the lame calf who would not bring the farm any profit as a dairy cow, it was decided that she would be put up for auction to possibly be sold for veal. This is a fate usually reserved for male calves, but weak or unwanted females are also sold for this purpose. Seeing this as the only profitable option her owner could fathom, she was torn away from her mother and set to be sold.
Luckily, Maribeth never made it to auction thanks to a kind woman who was able to convince the farm manager to spare Maribeth. Soon after the little calf was on her way to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
Maribeth was transported to the sanctuary and examined to assess the problem with her hind leg. It was discovered that she had a severe bacterial infection that had damaged her leg. Because cows can grow to weigh more than 1,000 lbs, they usually cannot support that weight on only three legs or with a crippled leg.
As Susan Foster, the programs director of Woodstock Sanctuary tells OGP, “Dogs, cats, and even goats can do well on three legs, but not cows.”
Maribeth was only given a 10 percent chance of survival, but the little calf was certainly ready to fight. She was quickly started on aggressive antibiotic treatments at the Cornell Veterinary Hospital and was put on strict pen rest with the hopes that some bone and cartilage would regenerate. While on pen rest Maribeth was allowed 10 minutes of “romp” time a day.
The incredible joy and gratitude Maribeth shows on these romps is unparalleled. Although she has a weak hind leg and has endured the unimaginable trauma of being torn from her mother and put through vet consults and procedures, Maribeth continues to bound around the sanctuary as if she had never known fear or pain.
Since her first treatment, Maribeth has returned to the Cornell Hospital for a series of check-ups and the lengths of her daily romps were extended as she showed progress.
According to Foster, when Maribeth first arrived at Woodstock Sanctuary, she was a “ sweet and somewhat shy young calf, mostly resting and occasionally running around and kicking up her heels on her allowed romps.”
As she has become accustomed to life on the sanctuary, she has transformed into “a confident young lady, fearlessly exploring the sanctuary, to an accepted member of a herd of adult cows shortly after her 1st birthday.”
Maribeth’s vibrant personality has touched thousands of visitors who come to the sanctuary, she is curious and incredibly friendly. At one point she was allowed to roam freely through the grounds of the sanctuary, exploring hidden grass patches and keeping tabs on employees, accompanied by the farm cat, Gus.
Anyone who meets Maribeth can see she behaves just like a cat or dog would and needs to be cherished and protected as much as any companion animal. Maribeth was ripped from her mother after birth all in the name of dairy and meat production.
Foster tells OGP, “The injustice [in the meat/dairy industry] is clear when meeting this sweet girl who was deprived her mother’s milk and love.”
Maribeth was incredibly fortunate to have been rescued by the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and she seems to show her gratitude and love for life nearly everyday (just take a look at the heel kicks she does on her daily romp).
According to Foster, “[Maribeth] will always be a special needs cow and she still walks with somewhat of a limp,” and though her health is good for now there are no guarantees that her condition will continue to improve. But the important fact remains that, “she will always be treated with love and respect and she will be given every chance at the long HAPPY life she deserves.”
Lead image source: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary