A calf with no rear hooves is depending on the kindness of strangers to save his life.
Hero started life with the deck stacked against him. Rejected by his mother shortly after birth, he was given to someone who thought bottle-raising a calf might be amusing. Somehow soon after, he ended up abandoned in a field.
Hero lay there, weak, hungry and unable to stand. Temperatures plummeted to well below freezing. He lay helpless and cold for up to four days. As a result, Hero’s rear hooves were frostbitten and he lost them both.
Poor Hero might have died then, but Kitty Martin wouldn’t allow it. Martin and her husband, Rick, are the owners and founders of Selah Ranch All Animal Rescue in Greenville, Va. She’s determined to save Hero’s life.
“He had a crappy start to life. He deserves to live. He wants to live,” Martin told NBC29. That means finding a way to allow Hero to walk again.
Hero first came to the public’s attention in May 2013 when Selah Ranch took him in and his story went viral. Donations enabled Limbcare Orthotics & Prosthetics to fit him with a pair of custom prosthetic replacement limbs.
See a YouTube video of Hero testing out his prosthetic legs here:
Unfortunately, it turned out that those prosthetics could not be a permanent solution. One of his leg stumps is essentially just skin covering the bone. The prosthetic was wearing that skin away and breaking it, causing Hero a lot of pain.
“All he wants to do is get up, but he’s in so much pain right now,” said Martin. “He’s standing on bone with hide over it.” Despite his discomfort, Hero still tries to walk. Even when he does get up, he has fallen many times in ways that endanger him. Nevertheless, he keeps on trying.
“Every time I go out to feed him he stands up,” Martin told The Very Best of Virginia. “To get his legs up under him, he almost has to do a front handstand and if he loses his balance he falls over. He’s already crashed through one wall.”
Why is Kitty Martin so determined? “[Hero] wants to live,” she says. “You can see it. If he didn’t want to live, he wouldn’t get up or want to eat. He’s healthy, except for his feet… He jumps up to meet me. I wouldn’t let him suffer for selfish reasons. I would have put him down by now if I didn’t believe he wants to live.”
Hero‘s One Chance to Live
There’s one chance for Hero. Veterinary surgeons at Texas A&M who have seen videos of Hero’s predicament believe they might be able to help him. They would need to even out Hero’s rear legs to shorten and strengthen them. They’d fit him with more appropriate prosthetics, since he’s a growing boy at about 600 lbs. now. Finally, Hero would get physical therapy to teach him to walk again.
First, though, the surgeons need to examine him before they’ll know if they can work a miracle. Hero has an appointment with the Texas A&M Veterinary College of Medicine for medical evaluation on Nov. 6.
To give Hero this chance will cost money. Selah Ranch put the word out in early October that they were down to two options: get Hero to Texas A&M in the next week or humanely euthanize him.
Generous strangers from all over the country are reaching into their wallets to make this happen. Hero’s $1,700 transportation money is covered. A kind trailer dealer gave the Martins a “donation discount” deal enabling them to purchase a trailer to haul Hero south. If the vets at Texas A&M give a thumbs up to the surgery, Selah Ranch already has about $4,200 towards the $7,000 to $10,000 the operation will cost.
“People’s kindness has really blown me out of the water,” Martin told The Very Best of Virginia. “It’s touched me in a way that I really needed at this point.”
It’s a lot of money to spend on one calf. However, Martin believes that if this surgery works out, this idea could become a viable option for ranchers who may not want to euthanize cattle who have lost a hoof because of frostbite or other reasons.
If Hero makes it, Martin wants to see him become a therapy animal for military veterans.
Good luck, Hero. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you.
Photo credit: All images courtesy Selah Ranch All Animal Rescue