By Patrick Donachie
The founder of an animal sanctuary in New Jersey attempted to rescue a bull that escaped from a Jamaica slaughterhouse Tuesday morning, only to learn that the animal had died while being transported to an animal care facility.
“I’m sorry it went that way,” said Mike Stura, the founder of Skylands Animal sanctuary and Rescue in Wantage, N.J. “I was looking forward to giving him a good home.”
At about 10:20 a.m. Tuesday morning, police in Jamaica responded to what has become an increasingly common 911 call: A bull was loose on the streets of southeast Queens.
The bull broke free from Aziz Slaughterhouse, located at 151 Beaver Road, according to the NYPD, and he was first spotted at the corner of Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard. At about 11:05 a.m. the bull had been contained in a backyard of a residence located at 117-53 Marsden St., a number of blocks above the northern edge of Rochdale Village. He then broke loose again, police said.
By 12:20 p.m. police contained the brazen bovine in a different yard at 115-43 158th St., about a 10-minute walk from the Marsden Street location. Pictures of the bull showed numerous tranquilizer darts sticking out of his side as he was pursued by a cadre of police vehicles.
Police began transporting the bull to an Animal Care Center located in Brooklyn, but he died during the journey, a spokesman for the ACC said. Police said he was taken to a crematorium after he was pronounced dead.
This was not the first instance of a runaway animal making a break for it on the streets of Jamaica. In April 2016, another bull from Aziz Slaughterhouse led police on a chase through downtown Jamaica, right onto the campus at York College before it was captured. The bull had an unlikely guardian angel in the form of former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart and his wife, animal advocate Tracey Stewart. The two helped transport the bull from an Animal Care Center to an upstate sanctuary.
In January 2016, a cow fought for its freedom by breaking out of a slaughterhouse in southeastern Queens. The cow, who was later named Freddie, ended up at Skylands under Stura’s care.
Stura said he started getting numerous text messages and phone calls at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, saying a bull had broken loose and was running through the streets of southeast Queens. He hooked up his trailer and started off for Jamaica, calling police and animal control to see if he would be able to bring the bull to his sanctuary once it was captured. Stura arrived in Queens and went to the place where he was originally told the bull was located.
“The original location I had been given, he was gone, running for his life,” Stura said. “They got him in the trailer and I got word he was going to the ACC. I was on my way there when they called to tell me he had passed away.”
A candlelight vigil was scheduled for Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. outside Aziz Slaughterhouse to mark the death of the bull and to urge the NYPD to train for these types of situations. Vegans of New York sponsored the vigil, saying that if the city was issuing permits to slaughterhouses, then the city “should take responsibility for the inevitable attempts that animals will make to escape pain and death.”
Stura said he was remorseful that the bull died before he could rescue him, saying he had already made space for the bull and scheduled several tests to check its health.
There was good news, however. Freddie, Stura said, was doing fine, in a herd of nine other cows. Stura said he was growing “like a weed,” and was almost twice the weight he was when he arrived at Skylands.
“He’s a pretty relaxed character,” Stura said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona