09/25/2015 01:57 EDT | Updated 09/25/2015 05:59 EDT

They Picked The Wrong Day To Be Killing Animals

He's powerfully built, thoroughly tattooed, and has somewhat of a fuse.

But Mike Stura insists it's a long one -- and it rarely meets a spark.

The founder of a sprawling 229-acre animal sanctuary in New Jersey, isn't the kind of guy who bullies his way into doing good for animals. Luckily, he's a very persuasive talker.

But yesterday, he lost it.

There are around 60 animals at the farm he founded last January, Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue. And sometimes, Stura has to deal with another nearby farm to pick up equipment for his furry, no-longer-forlorn charges.

"When you have farm animals eventually somehow you have to intersect with people who are sort of on the other side of things," he explains.

On Wednesday, the 49-year-old pulled up at the farm to find it unusually busy.

The boss -- the man Stura usually deals with -- wasn't around. Instead, a couple of young men approached asking him what he needed.

"Where's the boss?" Stura asked.

"He's really busy right now."


"Phil's busy with the Muslim people," came the awkward reply.

Of course. There were customers. It was the Muslim holiday of Eid, a holiday that sees millions of animals slaughtered worldwide.

Stura was insistent. He needed some equipment only the boss, a man named Phil, could get for him.

"I hope you're not squeamish," one of the men relented.


"They're slaughtering them."

"Slaughtering who?"

"The animals."

"Here on the premises?"

Spark, meet Mike Stura's fuse.

"Hell no," he said.

But think of it not so much as a hell-no of rage, as a hell-no of principle.

When faced with these situations -- and he has faced many -- Stura always feels the urge to follow his heart, at first, as a tiny spark.

"Then it wells up," he explains. "It's something I can't hold back any more."

And on that day, he really could not.

"I need you to go find Phil right now and tell Phil he has to give me an animal. I need you to give me animal -- at least one right now -- or I'm going to lose my mind."

Enter Phil the Owner.

"What's the matter? What's the matter?"

"What's the matter? You're killing fucking animals here, Phil."

The owner tried to explain the situation to Stura. It's Eid. Animals needed to be slaughtered. Customers. Business.

"I couldn't even hear what he was saying because I was so crazy about it," Stura recounted later.

He turned to Phil and said, simply, "I need you to give me an animal right now."

"You know they're like $300 right? I guess I could give you one of the old goats that lives here..."

"No, you can give me him too. But you have to give me one of the animals that you would kill."

"You're joking."

"Fuck no."

Five minutes later, a young sheep was ushered out of the killing floor.

And today, that sheep lives with Mike Stura.

Who assures us that he doesn't get mad very often.

He rarely loses it. But yesterday, he did.

And he gained something precious.

Meet Linus.

He was born on that farm, rented once to a petting zoo -- and yesterday, he would have been killed.

Today, he is at Skylands Sanctuary. His home.

Lucky Linus.


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