A Meat and Dairy Article from All-Creatures.org

Forty Starving Sheep Rescued From Backyard Slaughter Operation In New York

From Paul Healey, SpeciesUnite.com
February 2023

The flock of sheep at a backyard slaughter operation in New York, some of whom were pregnant, were close to death when found by investigators and required urgent medical treatment. 

Sheep Elvira Casper
Rescued Elvira and her newborn Casper. Credit: Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Forty starving sheep have been rescued after being discovered in horrifying conditions as part of a backyard slaughter operation in New York.

Authorities were initially alerted to the flock after limping and gravely malnourished sheep were discovered wandering on a major thoroughfare in Saugerties, NY.

A joint investigation from Ulster County SPCA and Catskill Animal Sanctuary launched to save the sheep from further harm, by involving law enforcement and a district attorney’s office.

As a result of their investigation, the sheep’s owner was issued with an “order to comply” notice by a veterinarian, with three conditions: put weight on the animals, deworm them, and treat debilitating and life-threatening hoof rot.

But when investigators returned one month later, nearly half of the original flock was missing, and the remainder were close to death.

With the veterinarian recommending the immediate seizure or slaughter of the remainder of the flock, Assistant District Attorney Felicia Raphael successfully negotiated the immediate surrender of the animals.

Sheep Tillie Wyatt
Rescued Tillie and baby Wyatt. Credit: Catskill Animal Sanctuary

The forty malnourished sheep were transported to Catskill Animal Sanctuary, where they received life-saving interventions, including blood transfusions. Three sadly passed away within days, but the remaining sheep are all recovering well.

Several pregnant sheep were among the rescues, and Catskill has reported that ten tiny lambs have since been born in the safety of the 150-acre sanctuary.

Located in New York’s Hudson Valley, the farmed animal sanctuary has been running for twenty-two years and is home to between 200 and 400 residents at any given time.

Sheep Selene Felicia
Selene with her newborn Felicia at their new sanctuary home. Credit: Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Despite the severity of the flock’s suffering under their previous owner, it is very unlikely that the offender will receive a felony conviction. "Unfortunately, someone who severely mistreats farmed animals cannot, in most cases, face a felony charge in New York,” explains ADA Raphael, who worked on the rescue.

“Until legislators strengthen animal abuse laws, prosecutions are limited,” adds Raphael. “In this case, the primary goal was to rescue the 40 remaining victims. We achieved that goal, and the SPCA will regularly inspect the defendant's farm to make sure any animals he may acquire in the future are being properly cared for."

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