When North Carolina was overtaken with floodwater’s, Mike Stura from New Jersey drove to rescue at risk animals caught in the hurricane’s aftermath.
The founder of Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue along with his two friends, Todd Friedman and Dave Miller, first found three puppies above the floodplains in North Carolina.
Stura told The Dodo, “They were emaciated and abandoned and shivering, and I pulled up by the road with the truck, I just stopped, and they came right up to me.”
But the puppies turned out not to be Stura’s biggest challenge. Someone had shown Stura a video of cows fighting to swim in rising floodwater’s on a property nearby.
“I put the boat in, and a local girl, Caroline Byrd … showed us where to go,” Stura said. “She didn’t live far, and she knew the area where the cows were, so she hopped into the boat with me, and off we went.”
Stura said that when he and his friends arrived at the property, a few cows had safely made it onto the owner’s front porch, which was elevated above the floodwaters.
But there was one cow having a difficult time staying afloat – swimming in front of the flooded barn.
“We chased her and got a halter on her,” Stura said. “To keep her head above the water, we latched her to the boat so we could bring her with us.”
And getting the cow to safety was no easy task. Stura shared he parked his truck and trailer a mile away and as a result, the crew had to drag her a far distance with their boat – despite motor failure at one point.
“Luckily, a guy came with a jet ski and gave us a little tow,” Stura said.
Stura noted the most difficult part about the rescue was getting the cow out of the water as the cow had lost so much energy from swimming, that she could no longer support her own body weight. Stura and his friends had to work together along with locals to physically lift the cow out of the water.
“She would cry and I’d lift her, and she would get her rear end up, but she just couldn’t totally stand,” Stura said. “We got some straps beneath her and some halters on her face … and there was about eight of us, lifting and pulling on her, and we just kind of heaved her up into the trailer.”
Stura and his crew were finally able to move the cow to safety – a dry trailer with plenty of straw and Stura repeatedly told the cow that she was going to be OK.
“Even though she’s too tired to get up, she’s feisty,” Stura said. “She’s a beef cattle — they don’t get handled by people, so she probably has had very limited interactions with people, and probably what she did have was not really positive — it was probably people taking her family and friends away, so she was understandably a nervous wreck.”
Over the phone, the farmer who owned the property informed Stura that any cow he rescued, he could keep – so Stura did just that, driving his rescued cow back to his sanctuary in New Jersey.
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