TORONTO — A unique program called Cows to Canvas helped the rescue a dozen cows from rising floodwaters in a small Canadian city.
The Daily Telegraph of Canada reported the program, hosted by Heartland Acres farm in Winnipeg, Manitoba, grew out of a desire to be a friend to British Columbia’s farmers. It was started about a decade ago with the help of local RCMP officers who stepped in to raise money to cover the cost of straw for the cows during their winters of uncertain futures.
At first, organizers thought they could just give the cows wool and water, but they weren’t good for the animals, said Livestock Marketing Council of Canada spokeswoman Kym Carleton. The program creates a bond between owners and calves from heartland Acres, who walk around the barns as they are grazed each night before sunrise. The calves will at least learn about how to relax, which isn’t always easy in the B.C. Interior.
“I feel very sad that the crisis occurred, it’s very unfortunate,” Carleton said. “But I would think the owners that lost their cattle will come back to the program in some way if it means rehoming the calves and taking them back for a new normal.”
Those same pounds of donated wool will eventually be used by Heartland Acres to grow scarves and jumpers for the local market. The calves got along with the animals at the farm until they started getting hit by rain. A month’s worth of rainfall fell in a couple of days.
Leaving the cattle alone in the barn was bad enough, but then a tractor had to be called in and tractor agitators were sent to free the animals. But because one of the cows had lost an eye before, anesthetic wasn’t easy.
All the cows had to be sheared because some needed complete casts for their wounds, but two had no skin left. Those two cows were among those that didn’t survive the ordeal. They will be put down because they will no longer be able to survive with their missing eyes.
The water has receded and the all the cows have been rehomed.
The rescues aren’t the only animal programs organizers had to do for relief funds. In September, more than 200 Canadian dogs were rescued by the Canine Disaster Response Team and taken to a local event held to reunite the owners with their dogs.
Despite being locked inside a barn, the dogs were strong and seemed to be enjoying themselves, said Dave Moreau, executive director of the animal rescue group that led the event.
“They were very friendly dogs,” Moreau said. “It looks like they were enjoying being in the hay and everything else. They knew they were coming home.”