“The excitement of the adopters, their love for these animals, the deep desire to help these beautiful innocent beings to not be slaughtered – it all creates an amazing community and web of caring people who would have never met each other otherwise. We are so blessed to have a group of volunteers who give their all when needed and also now a new family of adopters who share pictures and updates with us. It’s magical. Same with the donors on social media. Some of them check in regularly and even if they live all over the world, they feel they are a part of a very special cow rescue web and so we all have something in common. Something that connects us and helps us all heal together in a way. The trust they put in us, giving us their hard-earned money and having the faith that we go and save some more cows from slaughter – it’s like a ray of light we ignite together, bringing some goodness and hope into this world – together.” -Alessandra Rupar-Weber, on the Hawai’i Island Cow Rescue of 2019
The Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network is a Facebook group that was started due to the emergency of the 2018 Lava Flow on Hawaii Island. The group was formed literally overnight in response to the need to save animals left behind during the 2018 volcano eruptions in Puna. The group is currently fiscally sponsored by the Sanctuary of Mana Ke`a Gardens, a 501 (c) 3.
Early in 2019 a big-scale dairy farm on Hawai’i shutting down stoked the organizational forces of Hawai’i Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network (HLFARN) to gather human-power, support and funds to save as many cows as they could from slaughter.
A total of approximately 2800 female cows of various stages were at risk of heading to slaughter and HLFARN was singularly focused on saving as many lives they could in what would need to be a massive and dedicated community effort.
As of August 2019, HFLARN is engaged in their 6th cow rescue of the year with 309 plus 13 newborns cows saved to day. Funds secured from ongoing fundraising go towards purchasing the cows, moving them to new loving, safe homes as well as gas for transporation, vet care, medication and fencing assistance for some of the homes.
As of the time of this post in early August 2019, fundraising is in motion for HLFARN to launch a 7th rescue this year to save more cows and calves from slaughter. Read more updates and provide support at the following link: https://www.gofundme.com/cow-rescue-hawaii-by-hlfarn
Excerpts from July Updates by Hawai’i Cow Rescue Organizer Alessandra Rupar-Weber
July 25, 2019
We had 4 births since our #hawaiicowrescue no 6 (and are expecting a few more)!! Here are two of the day old babies with their mamas. We are checking in with the adopters regularly to make sure the babies are suckling and latching on to their mothers. So far, so good!!!!
Excerpts from July Updates by Hawai’i Cow Rescue Organizer Alessandra Rupar-Weber
Something very special and healing is happing here on #hawaiiisland within our #hawaiicowrescue circle of compassion: As you know, in order to obtain milk, a cow within the dairy industry will be continuously impregnated and the newborn will be taken from her after she gives birth. If you have ever seen any of the videos, it is a traumatic experience for both. So all these cows at this dairy were never able to bond with their babies. Don’t forget, they are commodities, milk machines. The babies who survive are kept in crates and are bottle fed for a few months, then weaned off to eventually become impregnated as well. If they are boys, they are useless.Since we started rescuing these beautiful beings from slaughter, 12 of these impregnated cows gave birth at their new homes. With one twin birth, we have currently 13 babies who are loved, cared for, grow up and stay with their mothers in safety. For us, that is worth everything.
As we are finishing up with this rescue round, we are already trying to fund the next one, since there are now 400 cows left to save and we have only until the end of September to do whatever we can.
Feature with HLFARN organizers Alessandra Nicola Rupar-Weber & Syndi Texeria
Introduction to the Hawai’i Cow Rescue Organizers: Alessandra
Born and raised in Vienna, Austria, Alessandra Nicola Rupar-Weber moved to the Big Island in 2005. On the Big Island, she is the co-founder of the annual Avocado and Mango Festivals. She previously owned “Divine Goods Hawaii,” a boutique and gallery until creating “Vegan Aloha” which opened the door to to creating events, conscious community movie screenings, plant-based local artisan Macadamia Nut cheeses, plant-based cooking classes, rejuvenating Soul Spa Days, retreats, concerts and workshops introducing and educating people about the many benefits of veganism.
Introduction to the Hawai’i Cow Rescue Organizers: Syndi
Syndi Texeira was born and raised on the Big Island. A compassionate Animal Advocate with a broad range of skills working with and rescuing animals, she is the volunteer administrator with the Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network (HLFARN) a volunteer group that was instrumental in the rescue of domestic and farm animals during the lower Puna eruption. With this current mission, the Hawaii Cow Rescue (HCR), she serves as the negotiation and communication liaison between HCR by HLFARN, potential adopters, and the administration of the dairy with duties including creating an online database, logistics for transportation, locating viable homes, vetting adopters, and follow up visits.
On the beginnings of the Hawai’i Cow Rescue:
Alessandra: In May 2018 when the lava started flowing in Puna and hundreds of animals were left behind, enclosed, abandoned or simply could not be caught in time, I created the Facebook group “Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network” late one night out of deep concern for the animals who needed help and the people who didn’t know what to do and who to turn to for help. The local animal organizations were not prepared or equipped to handle this major emergency, so we formed a network which was able to help hundreds of animals. Working together, we saved many, putting them on foster farms all over the island, to Sanctuaries and new homes.
An amazing group of people gave their all for weeks (some of us for months) to help the animals in dire need, also along with the help of local rescue organizations. We created something similar to an emergency response center – via social media. The situation was overwhelming, yet it was amazing what a few dedicated and determined people can achieve, united as a group with the same focus, commitment and equipped with giant hearts!
At the end of last year I read an article in a local newspaper that the CAFO dairy in Ookala will close. All I could think of was ‘What would happen to the 2600 ++ cows?’ A couple of sleepless nights later I contacted Stephen Rouelle, the co-owner of Under the Bodhi Tree restaurant and a dear friend of mine and Syndi Texeira who I got to know and deeply appreciate during our work together with the Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network, and asked if they would want to save cows with me. We gathered some of the core group members from the Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network and went to work.
In January we were able to save 61 bottle fed baby calves who were held in crates in one of the barns which was made possible by an amazing group of donors gathered via social media, local media and emails.
We raise the funds, find good committed homes/farms/ranches (which are all vetted by us) and then with a small group of volunteers and the help of the dairy manager and his staff, round them up, help load them into several trailers and bring them to their adopters where we help them to get into their designated areas safely and with the least stress possible.
These bottle-fed calves could not be reunited with their mothers anymore, so we reached out wherever we could to find homes who would adopt them, willing to bottle feed them twice a day and giving them some needed TLC. It took as two weeks (we had already 30 homes secured by then) and we were able to take out 61 babies in one day and deliver them to their families.
It was a crazy and intense day, since we are just lay people, not ranchers or cowboys or even used to handling cows. But we made it with the help of some awesome volunteers. We had a good bunch of people with giant hearts showing up that day and everything went smoothly enough. Since these babies never walked before on solid ground, were stressed and some of them weak, we had a few cases which needed to go to the vet but all of them are healthy now and thriving! We provided the first month of milk replacer and calf starter feed and initial vet care to all of the adopters
Hawaii Cow Rescue round no 2:
In February we took out 34 moms and 31 babies – held separately at the dairy in two different areas on rescue day. Everyone was crying (the cows and yes, some humans too) – little tiny newborn babies for their moms and the mamas for their babies. We brought them all to a farm that we were able to use as a staging area, all the mothers first and then the babies which took the whole day, so they could be reunited and have some time until we would bring them to other homes. One farm that was going to take 7 pairs fell through but that was only a small problem. Many babies didn’t latch on to mothers, were too weak or mismatched when taken out.
It was one of the biggest headaches and toughest days we ever faced. There they were 65 cows with huge filled udders, and hungry lost babies, all disoriented in their newfound freedom. Some did match up though, so we started separating them, trying to figure out the best way how to do all this.
One of our saving graces was that the staging area was a former staging area for a beef cattle ranch, so we had different corals available with sliding gates to separate several groups and move them around. It took us endless hours to create pairs and groups, on top we had a pregnant mama we were not aware of who gave birth right there.
Sadly one baby was already dead when we came to the dairy that morning and another one, which we took to the vet right away didn’t make it either. We took three more out into intensive care. They all made it with immense dedication and expert 24/7 care and are all now thriving at their forever homes.
The newborn baby nearly died but we able to manifest the perfect couple for them who had the skills and patience to administer tube feeding and electrolytes etc. and the baby stopped having a fever and started suckling on her own after a few days!!
On the daily operations and intensive inner workings of HFLARN during the Hawai’i Cow Rescue
Alessandra: We raise the funds, create the “PR”, gather attention via social media, emails, press-releases, flyers and Craigs list ads; answer emails daily, texts and phone calls, check up on former adopters, create posts and stories about the rescued cows, vet all the prospective adopters, plan the logistics for the operations on rescue day, follow up, provide vet care, bring medication, help with transport and re-home them if needed.
I am a very private person and do most of the work from home, from the computer and over the phone and Syndi is the hands on person, out in the field, dealing with the people and animals. But most of the work we really do together and share. We are a great team – bleeding hearts with many sleepless nights and a permanent fire of compassion that keeps us burning and going, every day. We help each other to manifest together, tirelessly.
It basically has become a full-time job for both of us, again, similar to the Lava Flow Rescue. All on a volunteer bases, we are not paid. Our most important task is fundraising and finding homes, getting the cows out safe and following up on them. We make sure that the boys will be castrated and relocate these gentle giants if for some reason they are not a perfect fit.
The rescue days would not be possible without incredible volunteers, sweating with us from early morning till sometimes after midnight, making sure that the cows land safely at their new homes. Providing vet care for two weeks if needed and being there for the adopters and the cows, sometimes months later. It keeps us in awe how differences are really only on the surface, since a huge heart and love and concern for all beings, wanting to decrease suffering and bring some light and hope can make the most beautiful and deep connections.
Special Rescue Memories….
Alessandra: Oh, there are so many!!! We brought several cows (we only adopt out a minimum of two, since they are herd animals and need the comfort of being with at least another one) to lonely singular cows and the way they meet, and bond is just so heartwarming and deeply touching.
Syndi, do you want to tell the wonderful story when the cows came to pick the newcomers up over and over again and showed them their new digs every single time?
Syndi: During our third rescue, we took 30 cows to an adopter in Ninoole. We needed to do three separate loads of 10 cows due to the trailer size and safety of the cows. The adopter in Ninoole had previously acquired cows from the dairy, so when we arrived with the first 10 cows, the previous residents came to greet their new roommates. The new cows were hesitant until they saw the herd running over the hill, calling to them. It was a beautiful sight. The same thing happened with the next load and by the last load, there were more than 30 cows running, mooing, and happy to see more of their friends from the dairy join them. The bond they have is now… unbreakable.
The excitement of the adopters, their love for these animals, the deep desire to help these beautiful innocent beings to not be slaughtered – it all creates an amazing community and web of caring people who would have never met each other otherwise. We are so blessed to have a group of volunteers who give their all when needed and also now a new family of adopters who share pictures and updates with us. It’s magical.
Same with the donors on social media. Some of them check in regularly and even if they live all over the world, they feel they are a part of a very special cow rescue web and so we all have something in common. Something that connects us and helps us all heal together in a way. The trust they put in us, giving us their hard-earned money and having the faith that we go and save some more cows from slaughter – it’s like a ray of light we ignite together, bringing some goodness and hope into this world – together.
On the future of HLFARN and the Hawaii Cow Rescue…
Alessandra: Syndi and I have experienced a lot together in the last year since this kind of rescue work can be extremely intense and overwhelming. We love working together and have deep trust and also found great ways to support each other in times of high stress and often despair.
We are planning to finally take the next step to become a nonprofit organization focused on rescue, disaster aid and relief, conscious community events, educational workshops, emergency services, and a sanctuary.
My dream is to create a vegan sanctuary and retreat center where you can stay for relaxation, education, and healing together with rescued animals. We can become healthy and whole together; heal together. To bond and nourish our often-depleted souls on this amazing, special, outstanding island we are fortunate enough to call our home.
Please visit the the Hawai’i Cow Rescue at the GoFundMe account here to help save more of these gentle beings.