Three weeks ago, Kitty Martin took in a calf in desperate need of some tender love and care.
“He should have been dead three times over…”
When Very Best of Virginia spoke with Kitty by phone Wednesday, the retired truck driver turned animal rescuer was busy feeding her latest arrival at the Selah Ranch All Animal Rescue in Augusta County.
The three-month-old calf, which Kitty has named Hero, was abandoned by his mother and left to starve by his owner during a cold snap in mid-April. As a result, Hero lost both his back hooves from frostbite and requires constant medical care and attention in order to prevent infection.
“He is time consuming, but there’s no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to let this calf die without fighting for him.”
Since receiving Hero, Kitty has been in contact with several leading veterinarians around the nation, trying to determine the very best option to not only save his life, but to help him walk again.
Last week, she says she was told by Dr. Robert Callan, head of the Livestock Medicine and Surgery Service at Colorado State University, that for $7,000 he could give Hero two prosthetic replacement limbs.
Kathy, determined to raise the money needed, contacted her local television station for publicity, and within days, Hero’s story went viral. He was featured on Good Morning America, Nightline and on countless other news programs and websites.
“He gets fan mail, it’s hilarious. I love it. This little guy deserves it.”
The attention led to a massive increase in donations of food and supplies for Hero and the more than twenty other animals Kitty cares for at the rescue.
The good news didn’t stop there.
Earlier this week, Kitty was told Hero may not have to have prosthetic surgery in order to walk again.
“With him only loosing his hoof parts, he [Dr. Callan] wants to try something else. It’s way better for the calf. It’s less invasive.”
In order to avoid bone and other serious infections caused by full limb replacement, Kitty says Dr. Callan is now recommending a pair of leather, removable prosthetic lower limbs be tried before surgery.
The search for someone who can make the “leather booties” for Hero has begun and Kitty is trying to come up with the money needed to pay for them — all while fighting the clock.
“The bigger he gets, the less time I have to do this.”
Thanks to the care and food he’s received at the rescue, Kitty says Hero has gained more than 100 pounds in just three weeks. The weight gain is good, but not for a young calf who is determined to stand on his own, despite missing two of his hooves.
While speaking with Kitty, she had to put her cell phone down several times in order to stop Hero from falling over during his attempts to walk. As he grows, Hero will continue to try to walk independently and could seriously injure himself if he doesn’t have some form of prosthesis to assist him.
“We’re not sure if we’re going to be able to save his life at this point. We don’t have the money to do it.”
While Hero’s recent brush with fame did lead to an influx of supplies, Kitty says she has only received $1,000 in donations.
The money is greatly appreciated, but not nearly enough to cover the more than $2,000 it costs each month to feed and care for the animals at the rescue and to help Hero walk again.
The lack of resources is weighing heavily on Kitty, who believes her life’s work is to care for animals like Hero who have no where else to turn.
“I cry myself to sleep most nights worrying about this. Animals have souls, they feel pain, they cry, they mourn and they depend on us.”
If you would like to help Kitty, Hero and all of the abandoned animals she cares for –