Abandoned in a Field to Freeze, Hero the Calf Needs New Hooves

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.”

Heros 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.

Calf with prosthetic legs sits with Kitty Martin

Hero the calf with Kitty Martin

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.

To learn more about how you can help Hero and keep track of his progress, you can visit Selah Ranch’s Facebook page and the “Hero Needs to Go To College” campaign.

Good luck, Hero. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you.

Photo credit: All images courtesy Selah Ranch All Animal Rescue


Jim Ven
Jim Ven9 months ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Richard Martin
Richard Martin2 years ago

Hero the calf's surgery was successful! He was up walking on his pin casts 20 min. out of recovery! Molds have been made and sent to the man making his new prostheses . He should have his new legs with in 2 weeks! A&M is very pleased with his recovery!

Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

Ann B. Go away the only frauds and cheaters are those that try to discredit and stop a worthwhile organization like Selah Ranch

Michael D.
Michael D.2 years ago

fake names, avoided answering questions that they knew would reveal their true motives, ect.... They have spent countless hours doing all of this. The one thing that they DID accomplish was to stress Kitty (owner of Selah Ranch), to the point of being hospitalized with what seemed to be a heart attack, but turned out to be an Angina attack. Yes this is what they DID accomplish !! When that happened, Kitty received DEATH threats on Herself and Hero via PHONE, from a member of this group as she lay in her hospital bed !! These are the most Hateful people I have ever experienced in my life ! So in closing , I ask that all HERO fans, focus on HERO, and IGNORE, what these HATEFUL people have to say, and DO NOT GIVE THEM, the time of day ! Do not even respond to them !

Michael D.
Michael D.2 years ago

To all who have been following the story of HERO ! As I am sure you have all seen , there has been 2 months worth of harassment and THREATS coming from ONE group . I would just like to inform everyone who may be listening to them and wondering about them, just what they are accomplishing !! The answer is NOTHING but wasting their time ! They have informed everyone for 2 months now that they have reported Selah Ranch to The IRS , The State of VA, the FBI, The Zoning commission, Animal Control, ect... !!! They have done this to several rescues across the country !! Well the bottom line is , that Selah Ranch is not receiving heat from ANYONE except this group !! In fact the commissioner of VA himself , wished Kitty and Hero a safe trip to Texas and wished her the Best of Luck with everything. This GROUP has infiltrated every news media chat dealing with HERO, trying to coerce everyone into believing that Selah Ranch is Criminal and Fraudulent. As I have said after all of their REPORTS on Selah Ranch, NOTHING came of it !! We also now have EVIDENCE that one of the DEATH Threats came from one of the people in this group !! Almost Every hateful attack on every media chat on Hero that you read, has come from someone in this ORGANIZED group ! We have a list of all the names and have kept every word they have said recorded, including the VERY many self incriminating ones that they have deleted. They have consistently played games, blocked people that have challenged them, hid behind f

Richard Martin
Richard Martin2 years ago

Hero Had his surgery at Texas A&M on the 19th! He was walking on his pin casts 20 min. out of recovery!!!!

Richard Martin
Richard Martin2 years ago

Hero Had his surgery at Texas A&M on the 19th! He was walking on his pin casts 20 min. out of recovery!!!!

Richard Martin
Richard Martin2 years ago

Hero Had his surgery at Texas A&M on the 19th! He was walking on his pin casts 20 min. out of recovery!!!!

Ann Brooks
Jackie Bell2 years ago

Selah is a fraud, they say they have their 501(c)(3) status in one place and say they are pending in another. According to the IRS they are NEITHER. Know that if you donate to them and plan to write it off on your taxes you will not be able to. They also have a history of getting places to help them (services and time), say they will pay them and do NOT. The IRS frowns on FRAUDS...do you?