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Animals In Print
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From Animals in Print 11 December 2000 Issue:


It has been almost three days since Jessica disappeared with Joy Boy. What started out as a small town searching for one of its own has now attracted national attention. The search has gone from local to statewide. Many speculate the teen has been abducted and the steer disposed of or killed. Jessica Karls seems to have done the impossible, vanished without a trace.

CNN and other national news shows had picked up the story. People everywhere were glued to their TV as the odd disappearance unfolded and captured their interests, their hearts.

Who ever heard of a teen running off with a steer. What so impassioned her? Odder still they found themselves wanting Joy Boy to live. The names Patties, Clover Rover and Bird Watcher also aroused this inpassioned feeling. They waited in their homes grilling steaks and swallowing burgers while they prayed for the foursome to live. These steers had become a reality to people.

CNN had visited Mel's Farm and the three remaining steers had received much media. As they were paraded out for the cameras people noticed they had personalities and feelings. They had become more than a commodity, they were alive. Donations to save the steers were being sent to a local bank. Everyone wanted a happy ending. If only Jessica and Joy Boy could be found. If only....

Larry Leon from Helicopter Rescue volunteered to search the entire area for Jessica. He was an animal activists and was determeinded to locate Jess and Joy Boy.   He had spent most of the last day and a half looking for any sign of either of them.  He realized time was a predator waiting to gobble up any chances of finding them safe.

He had just made his hourly report to Robert Cunningham, Chief of Controls, results of search, negative.

Now, shortly after speaking to the Cunningham, Larry delayed returning back to the airport, heading instead back toward the marsh areas. He thought of Jessica's mother, he could still hear her soft cries and see her anguished face.

Larry had requested he not return till he had checked all the areas thoroughly once more.  This was his fifth flight over the area and still no signs of the girl or the steer.  He was now going back to examine again the large swampy acreage that was positioned north of Mel's farm.

Are you crazy, he asked himself.  There is no way the teen and especially a steer could have made it through those hungrey mucky bogs. His common sense emphatically told him the that Jess would probably have drowned, yet something urged him on.

He was tired but determinded.  After another fifteen minutes of searching he thought he saw a large clearing appear.  Was it possible?  He turned the helicopter around and slowly descended for a closer look.

He made several brief sweeps over the clearing and then he saw it, a steer. He was surprised and actually shocked and going down for a closer look. The steer peered up at the strange obstacle overhead. Even as Larry got closer it showed no signs of fear, in fact it appeared quite determined to remain where it stood.

Larry was hopeful. He reached for his microphone and called back to Cunningham.   Until this time nothing had gone according to plans and now this incredible sighting might be the big break in the disappearance.

"Cunningham," he said, "I am sure I have located the steer, though at this time there is still no sign of the girl."

Cunningham answered immediatley, a location was made on the sighting, searchers would be notified and rescue teams sent to the area. All efforts were now rerouted toward the location. Cunningham asked him if it was possible to land, Larry replied, affirmative.

Safely on ground Larry slipped quickly out of the helicopter.  He didn't want to distract the steer landing quite a distance from him. He wanted to be sure he had the correct position to access the entire clearing and look for Jess.  He didn't want the animal to run off or become upset.

Knowing it wouldn't be a good idea to go straight to the steer , he walked a slow circlular path toward him. "Joy Boy," he said.The steer turned and looked at him, his soft brown eyes seemed sorrowful and Larry felt Joy Boy`s unspoken concerns.

Suddenly he knew why. He thought he had heard her. It was an almost inaudible small cry and some jumbled words, but he was sure of it.  He had heard Jessica.

He stood transfixed for a moment, then it came again. "Joy Boy," she cried out, "Help me, Joy Boy"

Larry was stunned, he stopped and looked all around the clearing, yet he saw no one.

Could someone be fooling him?

No, that was absurb, he had heard her. He got mad at himself, he had no time for foolish thoughts. The girl was here. Now he focused on the location of the sounds, determining they came from very near the steer, odd as it seemed.

"Jessica," he called out.

To his relief she answered. "Help, HELP" Her voice grew strong .

He walked toward the steer and as he did, he saw it. The rotted wood and gaping hole below it. He pulled out his flashlight and carefully peered down into its taunting, ragged mouth. The steer, which now stood beside him, seemed to lean closer and lean down toward her voice. He let out a wailful cry.

Something stirred in the belly of the well and Jessica squinted up at them.   Disheveled and injured, but alive. There also appeared to be some large object in the well with her. Larry couldn`t make out what it was. But it seemed to be around her foot. It was appparent she had lost a lot of blood. He couldn`t believe the teen was still coherent. A few minutes earlier he would have doubted the fact that this girl could have made it across such treacherous terrain.  Now here she was.  Not only had she accomplished this by herself at night, but leading a huge steer.

"Jess" he said, "Can you hear me?"

There was a long pause then a soft "yes... yes", then louder "Yes, Can you please help me? And then in words Larry could easily understand, she asked, "Is Joy Boy okay?"

"Yes Jessica," he replied, "he`s fine." Without any hesitation he reached over and caressed the huge animal.

"Jessica, I have to call and get help for you. Hang on sweetie."

Three days after Jessica Karls disappeared, he, Larry Leon had found her.  He couldn`t say the situation looked good or that she was going to be okay, but she was here and she was still alive.

He returned to the helicopter and placed the call.  Announced the good news.

The whole nation had been waiting to hear Jessica Karls had been found alive and with Joy Boy. Reporters from across the nation, picking on this incredible story, waited, hungrey for any news. Larry's call had not disappointed them.

Larry returned to Jessica and Joy Boy.  He knew she was in a dangerous situation and he was well aware of the need to be very careful.  He glared harshly at the old well, which refused to give up its tenent. "Jessica, Jessica, help is on the way.  If he disturbed the ground the old well might collapse. For now he was happy that she was alive.

"Okay" she squeeked and Larry sensing she might be losing patience and hope told her of all the good news. That arrangements had already been made to send the steers to Farm Sanctuary. There they would live out their lives in a loving, nonviolent atmosphere. That she, Jessica had accomplished in this one selfless act, the very miracle she had been denied.

As he spoke to her he realized even more what an incredible teen she was.   Inside her soul, in her very being was the beautiful essence of compassion and love.  He proceeded to tell her about the attention her dangerous venture had attracted and all the wonderful people that had come to the aid of the animals.  Best of all, she had been heard, in her brief farewell note left to her parents.  As it was read on national TV, people listened to her heart, felt her soul and really understood.  Her sweet tender goodbye and loving devotion had been like a whisper that roared.

Jessica had saved the steers.  They would be going to Farm Sanctuary and all the donations sent would used to keep the steers there and any excess money would help other abused and downed farm factory animals.  The suffering of many was alleviated by the sacrifice of this child.

Jessica felt the tears run down her cheeks.  For the first time she let herself cry.  Her head throbbed, her foot was swelled and infected, but now she didn`t care. Right now she felt good inside, she felt so full of love and so encouraged. At one point, just a few hours ago she had lost hope, now to hear her dedication had paid off, she could think of only one feeling "joy", like in Joy Boy.  Then fevered and injured, her battered body could take no more, she passed out. Jessica Karls, mission accomplished.

Incredibly Larry's concerns of a long rescue delay were incorrect.   Helicopters.  He heard the helicopters.  He looked up, the medical helicopter had arrived.

Jessica, Jessica can you hear them? Help is here.  Jessica???



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