Jul 15, 2014 6:30 PM by KSBY Staff
An FFA project steer that was badly burned last year is on his way to an animal sanctuary.
Caretakers from Animal Place picked up "Panda" on Tuesday and transported him to his new home, a 600-acre sanctuary in Grass Valley.
This comes after a donor from the Los Angeles-area offered $10,000 to buy Panda in order to keep him from going to a terminal auction at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. She and Animal Place representatives say they felt he deserved to live out the rest of his natural life.
"I think Panda has been through way enough, more than any being should have to endure," said Kim Sturla of Animal Place. "The thought of him going to auction to be slaughtered is unthinkable."
Garrett Kaplan, 23, is facing charges for allegedly breaking into the barn at Paso Robles High School last fall and setting the steer on fire. He has pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges.
Panda's owner, student Dylan Wilkinson, nursed the steer back to health with the help of community donations of money and bio-gels. Wilkinson was going to stick to his original intention, raising Panda for auction, but changed his mind.
Dylan Wilkinson sent KSBY the following statement on Tuesday:
This has been a very troubling experience these last few months and I have made the final decision to pull my steer "Panda" from the 2014 California Mid-State Fair. I never could have prepared myself for the backlash I received after my last interview. My supporters were being threatened along with rumors of others wanting to come to my residence to steal my steer. Even though many people based their opinion off of pure emotion, I did not want to risk someone being harmed or harassed due to my decision to take "Panda" to the fair. I have done my best to follow through with my word and I felt that in this situation, this was the best that I could do, not only for me but for everyone involved. I also felt that it was not fair to put my fellow livestock exhibitors through the ridicule that was bound to come during the fair. Many of you will not understand and I am not going waste my breath trying to explain for I should not have to defend myself from the public's ridicule. No, this was not because of the money, this was because the huge toll this has taken on my family and others involved. I feel that it is not worth our own personal wellbeing.
"Panda" is headed to Animal Place, an animal sanctuary in Grass Valley on behalf of Marcy Christmas and her extremely generous offer of $10,000. I plan to use this money towards my future education in hopes of attending Oklahoma State University.
Thank you all who have supported me throughout this journey, especially: Bob and Char Breeze with Anjon Biologics and Biogel, Don and Jan Lane, The Jennings family, Mark Clement, Jeremy Monn, Justin Pickard, Christina Grewal, the Hook Family, KMH Bucking Bulls, Stephen McClenny, Home Depot and the rest of our community.
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