Brianna and her calf Winter quickly formed an inseparable bond
It wasn’t the first time Mike Stura got a call in the middle of the night from the police. As the founder of Skylands Sanctuary & Animal Rescue in Wantage, New Jersey, he has been called upon numerous times to help rescue animals from precarious and often dangerous situations.
Recently the call was about a cow that escaped a slaughterhouse. Somehow, whether the cow jumped or fell off, the animal — now named Brianna — ended up off the truck carrying her to her fate and on a New Jersey highway. Stura was able to safely corral the nervous cow using his equipment and bring her back to the sanctuary.
From there, Stura made his own early morning call, waking up a veterinarian he regularly works with to come out and check on Brianna. It only took the doctor a few moments to determine that the cow escapee was very pregnant.
Two days later “she was walking funny with hooves coming out of her” Stura told PEOPLE. After spotting this, the animal lover called the same vet to come out for the delivery, but he was more than an hour away on another job. So Stura and several sanctuary staff members helped Brianna deliver her calf: a beautiful girl they named Winter.
“She is a first-time mother so she seemed confused by the whole thing,” Stura said. “But it didn’t take her long to start nudging the baby and licking her clean.”
These first maternal moves were the start of a special bond.
“They are inseparable,” Stura said of the mother-daughter pair. “Mom doesn’t just put eyes on her baby, she goes up and touches her with her nose.”
Brianna is never more than a few steps away from Winter, protecting the calf by standing over her whenever anyone new comes near. Mom may not realize it yet, but this duo is never going to be apart: neither will have to worry about a trip to the slaughterhouse again.
“They will be here their whole lives together,” Stura vowed. “I will never separate them.”
Brianna and Winter joined more than 70 other cows who live at Skylands. According to Stura, each cow has its own name, personality and story.
“People don’t realize how big and varied their personalities are,” he said of the animals “They’re individuals.”
He hopes that stories like Brianna’s help others realize how quirky, sweet and grateful cows can be, and encourage others to learn more about the practices used by dairy and beef industries.
To learn more about Skylands Sanctuary & Animal Rescue, a non-profit that depends on donations, and how they protect and care for cows and other animals, visit Skylands’ website.