A cow who broke into a California animal sanctuary six weeks ago ended up stealing some hearts and finding a forever home there.
Animal care director Hannah Beins from Grass Valley’s Animal Place sanctuary was the first to set eyes on the 800-lb. animal, and she knew immediately the curly-haired bull was not one of hers.
“[I]was stunned to see a short cow who came up to Murphy’s (our largest cow) shoulders!” Beins tells PEOPLE. “There was no mistaking that this was not an Animal Place animal. Even though he had only been in the herd for a few hours, he had already completely integrated himself with our boy cows and seemed to belong!”
Animal Place named the bovine visitor Davey and set out to find out exactly how he made his way in. They walked the four-mile fence line around the 600-acre property and eventually found an opening, where the Angus/Scottish Highland mix seemingly let himself in.
His arrival was strange — and the way the cow integrated himself with the herd was even more unusual.
“When we introduce new cows to the herd there is often some posturing and chasing,” Beins explains. “Amazingly, most of the herd was calm, as if Davey had lived here for years. Except for Theo, an 1,800-lb. black-and-white Holstein. Theo kept snorting, stomping the ground, and pretending to challenge Davey – who just stared at him, unimpressed.”
Sanctuary staff grew concerned about possible penalties for not attempting to find the cow’s owner, so they called neighbors, posted flyers in the community and notified the local shelter. It took one month but a tip would lead them to a property with a small herd, and a rancher, who Animal Place says had plans to send Davey and 17 other bulls, cows and calves to slaughter.
“My heart sank,” says Beins. “I panicked but tried to keep my cool. It was one of the most difficult moments I have ever experienced. The thought that not only would we have to part with Davey, but that also he would be slaughtered and end up on somebody’s dinner plate!”
Beins paid a visit to the rancher to beg to keep Davey — noting his immediate bond with the herd — and the rancher agreed to relinquish ownership, Animal Place says.
“For whatever reason, after living two years at his prior home, he met our cows and fell in love with them,” Beins says of Davey. “He broke down a fence to find his sanctuary, and we are so glad we can watch him grow old.”
Davey is now in charge of the herd, Beins says, despite his diminutive size. “He adjusted the day he broke into Animal Place,” she added. “He is a very happy boy and is particularly fond of Bob and Nicholas, two of his good friends.”