Most people would not consider highland cows as pets but, despite this, they are in fact very sociable animals who enjoy human contact and affection. It was displays of exactly this kind of friendly behaviour that saved two highland cows, Hamish and Dougal, from slaughter last summer and began a campaign to not only rehouse these two but also reunite them with their older brother William.
Hamish and Dougal
Hamish and Dougal lived in a field in the Cape of Cornwall. The field experienced a lot of people passing by and Hamish and Dougal were renowned for attracting the attention of any onlookers and encouraging them to clap, pet and generally interact with them; the two brothers were even known to actively nudge people if they felt more attention was necessary. Sadly, Hamish and Dougal, like most cattle, were being raised for eventual slaughter. Fortunately, the boys’ local popularity was brought to the attention of VIVA (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals) who set about trying to save Hamish and Dougal and have them rehomed at an animal sanctuary.
After meeting with the farmer who owned the boys it was revealed that the farmer would be willing the let Hamish and Dougal go if he was compensated for their market value of £2,500. VIVA launched a petition and with generous donations from individuals and businesses the target was achieved meaning Hamish and Dougal could be rehomed at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Frettenham, Norwich.
One sad fact about Hamish and Dougal’s relocation was that they had to leave behind their elder brother William. William is older and was much larger than the other two boys and had not been as enthusiastic in seeking the local passers-by’s affections, thereby going unnoticed in the original appeal. That said, William was incredibly protective of his younger siblings and was happiest whenever he was near them. This affection for his brothers also meant that William would react in an upset manner when they were separated. William’s distress at being separated from his brothers is something that Heidi Stephenson of VIVA witnessed first-hand when she came to supervise the collection of Hamish and Dougal; and it became clear that a rescue mission for William would also be necessary.
William’s rescue was a little more complicated than that of Hamish and Dougal due to a number of factors. Firstly, the famer sold William shortly after Hamish and Dougal had been relocated which meant that Heidi had to do a considerable amount of research to track down his whereabouts. Sadly, William had been sold to a farm where he was not being treated as well as he had been previously. VIVA found that, in the six months since his relocation, William had lost a staggering amount of weight and was down to 800kg from his previous weight of 1.1 tons. William had also been forced to breed with over 80 cows during this time (around four times the recommended level for the time of year) and seemed exhausted as well as malnourished. The most damning indictment of William’s treatment was that his new farmer insisted on “sold as seen” clause in case William died shortly after the sale.
Fortunately William was successfully rescued and relocated to the Hillside Animal Sanctuary along with his brothers and is now regaining his weight and getting healthy.
If there is a moral to this heart-warming tale, I suppose it is the realisation that domesticated animals, regardless of whether they are raised for companionship or food, are all living, feeling creatures that deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion. Obviously not every cow or bull can be saved in a similar manner to Hamish, Dougal and William but I think we can all agree that none should be mistreated to the point poor William was in his second home.
If you would like to learn more about William, Dougal and Hamish you can read Banana Moon’s blog post on the boys here: http://www.banana-moon-clothing.co.uk/blog/william-hamish-and-dougal-reunited/