Animal rescue can be incredibly hard work, as this activist knows firsthand after his recent mission to save a sheep… or two.
When Mike Stura of New Jersey read about the sheep that briefly escaped a butcher shop in New York City, he knew he needed to save the animal. He jumped into his truck and drove over to Sunset Park to the Al Noor Halal Meat Market, where the sheep had fled, but was caught and returned.
Stura spoke directly with the shop’s owner, Mohammed Aldeen. After a little bit of back-and-forth, the sheep was released to Stura.
“I told him that when animals escape a place like his, the owner will often allow that animal to go live its life on a sanctuary to create goodwill in the public,” Stura said. “He asked me what I would do with her, and I said I would give it to a sanctuary. He finally asked me what I’d like him to do. I said, ‘Give her to me.’ He thought about it for a minute and, finally, he said okay.”
The shop was very busy with many extra shoppers getting ready for a Muslim holiday. “There were a lot of people coming in and out. There were whole animals without their skins hanging there. I found the owner and he sent one of his employees to go and get her [the sheep]. They brought her out and I immediately saw it was a different sheep.”
Stura didn’t say anything, figuring rescuing any sheep is as good as another one since they were all destined for slaughter. “”I wasn’t going to say, ‘This isn’t her, take this one back and kill it.’ I was very grateful, I brought the sheep home,” explained Stura.
But he couldn’t stop thinking about the other sheep, the one that tried so hard to get away. He returned to the market the next day, explaining the mix-up. He told Aldeen that the runaway sheep had a number tag on her back. Aldeen explained that once a sheep has a number tag on its back, it has been purchased and claimed by a family, and that the runaway sheep was already gone. Stura looked around the shop and couldn’t find her anywhere. When it was confirmed that the runaway sheep had already been slaughtered, Stura heard something unexpected from the owner of a butcher shop.
“[Aldeen] put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘My friend, at least you saved one life.’ It’s a funny thing for a guy who owns a slaughterhouse to say that to you and mean it. I think he felt bad for me,” said Stura.
While the runaway sheep didn’t make it to permanent freedom, one of her sisters did, so Stura’s efforts were not wasted. The sheep he did rescue will be living out her days at Farm Sanctuary in New York.
Photo credit: Mike Stura