So….surgery didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped. Once they got in there, the bone was not viable for the metal plate repair. So we had two choices: euthanasia or amputation.
Amputation is not ideal for a cow, especially on a front leg since cows carry 60% of their weight in the front. But given the second choice was just not possible for me to decide in 30 seconds, and that we’d already paid for all the pre-surgical procedures and he was already under anesthesia, we decided to give him a chance to live with 3 legs.
The immediate recovery situation isn’t much different than the “ideal” repair surgery. He will stay in at CSU so his post-surgical pain can be managed. It will be important in the coming hours and days that he is eating, that he gets up, and that he doesn’t develop any infections.
The rehabilitation may be more extensive as he learns to adapt to a missing leg rather than the painful, broken one he’s been dragging around for 2 weeks, which he adapted to in that time.
This decision to amputate may be criticized. Cows, because of their size, haven’t had the same consideration and experience with mobility challenges as dogs, goats, or even pigs. But if we learned anything from Lilah, whose disability was much more severe than what Mateo should experience, it’s that given a chance and accommodations, joy and a deep love of living is very possible. We didn’t ever give up on her, and so we should give Mateo those same opportunities. He’ll have three legs to stand on instead of none.
Yes, caring for him will make us more attached. We will love him more every day, and if he doesn’t live as long as a “normal” cow, we will have to weather the heartbreak…as we will with every other animal who comes into our care when they leave us. That inevitable ending’s timeframe was not a compelling reason to take away his chance at happiness.
Mateo (and his caretakers) are ready to live life and help change the world for the better. Who’s with us?