New group aims to rescue Wisconsin’s neglected livestock
Bill Blemke of Irma is spearheading the ambitious task of rescuing Wisconsin’s neglected livestock. Blemke has founded Cattle Rescue, Inc., a non-profit organization created to help malnourished and mistreated cattle.
“We’re set up with the sheriff’s departments statewide,” he said. “When they get horse or cattle neglect cases, we’ll come and pick them up.
“Our purpose is to house these animals and with proper medical and nutritional attention, bring them back to a healthy condition,” Blemke added. “Once we achieve that goal, these animals will be placed back into their respective markets.”
Cattle Rescue, Inc. works with a trucking company that can pick up animals from anywhere in the state and transport them to Lincoln County. The organization currently has six temporary sites in the county where seized or surrendered animals are housed for rehabilitation.
Blemke said he didn’t originally intend to use temporary sites; his plan was to build a permanent site in Irma before opening this summer. But, the calls for help came before he could even start fundraising efforts. Last month, Cattle Rescue, Inc. took in 150 unwanted calves from 14 different Wisconsin counties. The calves were placed with local farmers who will house and feed them.
The organization is working on developing other outlets for the animals it takes in, from feed lots and dairy farms to horse stables.
Cattle that aren’t marketable but are still fit for human consumption will be slaughtered at Geiss Meat Service in Merrill, turned into hamburger and donated to a food pantry in the county where the animal originated.
“We’re trying to design it so nothing goes to waste,” Blemke said.
There are definitely costs associated with caring for large animals, but the ultimate goal is to make the organization self-sufficient through the sale of the animals.
The idea for Cattle Rescue, Inc. came as Blemke was recovering in the hospital a few years ago. Lying in bed for days on end, he watched a lot of Animal Planet.
“I was watching the animal rescue shows in the hospital and I realized I never saw one cow,” he said. “When I got out I started checking with vets and judges and found out there’s no place for them.”
Blemke, who was born and raised on a farm, decided to take action. Over the next couple of years, Cattle Rescue, Inc. started to take shape.
“I’ve been working on this for two and a half years,” he said. “To get non-profit status takes a lot of time.”
During that process, Blemke discovered that the organization is the first of this magnitude in the nation.
A board of directors has been formed, including Athens veterinarian Paul Dlugopolski and Tomahawk feed store owner Carl Felser.
Cattle Rescue, Inc. is beginning fundraising to build a permanent facility in Lincoln County, with a goal of $500,000. Donations can be sent to Cattle Rescue, Inc., W3883 Nelson Ave., Irma, WI 54442 or contact any Associated Bank location.
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