Calf who escaped from slaughterhouse and ran for freedom down a motorway is rehomed in animal sanctuary

Liam Stack

A calf who ran loose on a New York City motorway for more than half an hour amid traffic, after escaping from a slaughterhouse has been rehomed in a farm sanctuary.

The male calf, estimated to be less than a year old, was found running up the Major Deegan Expressway near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on Tuesday morning with a tag in his ear.

A spokesperson for Animal Care Centres of New York City said the animal was “very stressed” by the ordeal, during which he thrashed and kicked at the air near the concrete median as cars crawled past.

He was taken into custody by the New York Police Department, which named him after his escape route of choice: Major Deegan.

His escape, and the ensuing traffic jam, made him a sudden star on TV and social media.

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Ms Hansen, said the number of farm animals that have turned up on the streets of New York in the last 10 days was unusually high.

She described the phenomenon as both “crazy” and "hard to explain".

“In all of 2018, we got three goats, seven pigs and one sheep – in the entire year,” she said.

“So now in 10 days we have gotten a lamb, two goats and a cow. It is sort of like that movie Chicken Run, when the animals all escape.”

Ms Hansen said that one of the goats, which she said the agency was due to receive Tuesday night, was a slaughterhouse reject rather than a runaway.

Someone showed up at a slaughterhouse looking to hand over a goat, but the butchers inside declined the offer.

“The slaughterhouse said, ‘No, this isn’t our goat’,” she said. “So, the person is bringing it to us instead.”

The police department said the calf had wandered as far as Exit 6, about 1 mile, by the time officers from the Emergency Service Unit arrived.

Police said they tranquillized the animal, took him into custody and transported him to an Animal Care Centre’s facility in Harlem.

Animal Care Centres, a non-profit that provides animal control services for the city, also cared for another goat, which was found in the Bronx on Sunday, and a lamb, which was found on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn last Wednesday.

Ms Hansen said rescue workers named the goat Billy, and the lamb Petunia.

While the calf made his way to Harlem, Ms Hansen said centre employees cleared some dogs out of a play area in the backyard and set up an area for him, complete with a mound of hay.

When he arrived, the calf was led through the back gate “so he wouldn’t have to walk through the actual shelter” and was then left to have some peace and quiet, Ms Hansen said.

Escaped farm animals tend to be stressed out by their ordeal, she said.

“They are in new surroundings, and they have just run away from a place where they most likely sensed danger.”

“Now they are surrounded by unfamiliar smells, and there are no other animals that look like them around, so that is scary. Their adrenaline is probably rushing.”

Ms Hansen said that the calf, like the goat and the lamb before him, was sent to Skyland Sanctuary in Wantage, New Jersey.

The other goat was sent on Tuesday night to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York, which is well known for its association with comedian Jon Stewart.

Sending an escaped animal to a nearby sanctuary is standard procedure because slaughterhouses tend to be located close together, Ms Hansen said.

This makes it difficult to determine which facility may be missing an animal when they are tagged.

Allie Feldman Taylor, president of Voters for Animal Rights, said there are about 80 slaughterhouses in New York City.

Ms Hansen said if one of them comes forward and claims an escaped animal, it is returned to them. But that rarely happens.

“Probably because of public outcry,” she said. “When people really think about what they are eating, I guess it affects them in that way.”

New York Times