Baby Bobbie, a 4-month-old bull, suffered a heart attack while under anesthesia, according to the sanctuary who took him in. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: NewsdayTV

A 4-month-old bull rescued from inhumane conditions on a Riverhead property last week has died after suffering a heart attack while being castrated under anesthesia, according to the sanctuary that took the animal in.

Robert, renamed Baby Bobbie by rescuers, underwent the procedure at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca on Saturday, said Gabrielle Stubbert, director and founder of Tamerlaine Sanctuary & Preserve in New Jersey.

Kaitlyn Serrao, a spokeswoman for Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, released this statement Thursday: "Per client confidentiality policies, the Cornell University Hospital for Animals does not generally comment on details pertaining to individual cases."

Stubbert said while the operation is considered routine, complications can arise anytime an animal goes under anesthesia. Still, she said she and her staff are "in shock" over the death.

"In the 10 years that we have been running the sanctuary, we've never had an animal die under general anesthesia for a general surgery like castration," she said. "It is so heartbreaking for our entire sanctuary."

The rescue announced the bull's death on social media on Monday, saying that there are no words to explain their frustration, and are reminded that at times there are "things out of our control."

Before the surgery, veterinarians had said the bull was in "pretty good shape" and appeared healthy, Stubbert said.

Two bulls and a steer  — Artie, Robert and Steve —...

Two bulls and a steer  — Artie, Robert and Steve — were transferred Tuesday from a vacant Riverhead ranch to an animal sanctuary in New Jersey Credit: Humane Long Island

The young bull was rescued by the sanctuary from the Riverhead property on Jan. 23, along with another bull around 6 months old named Steven, later renamed Arturo, and Esteban, a 6-month-old steer.

Stubbert said Cornell is conducting a necropsy to evaluate why Baby Bobbie suffered the fatal heart attack.

"We're grateful for our community for supporting us and standing by us as we go through this loss," she said.

The three were rescued along with 10 piglets, 50 chickens and roosters, three cows, goats, sheep and a bunny, after a 1-year-old German shepherd was found shot and paralyzed in a pen next to a dead goat earlier this month, according to Humane Long Island’s president and executive director, John Di Leonardo.

Carlos Lauro, 76, the owner of the property,pleaded guilty in court earlier this month to the unjustified killing of an animal and was sentenced to 1 year in jail and prohibited from owning any animals for at least 20 years.

He was originally charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, three counts of neglect of an impounded animal and several unclassified misdemeanors.

Stubbert said she is saddened that Baby Bobbie spent such a short time being cared for properly.

"It's horrible," she said. "When you have an animal that's so close to being in a perfect place, where they're going to be happy for the rest of their lives and something like this happens, it's just, 'Why, why?' "

Baby Bobbie was described as the shyest of the three, "completely attached" Arturo who "wouldn't leave his side."

The other bull and steer successfully underwent the surgery at Cornell.

Esteban, who has been "incredibly friendly right off the bat," is healing in quarantine at the sanctuary. Arturo, who was "standoffish" at first but has been "asking" Cornell staff for "scratches," will be picked up Thursday by Stubbert and sanctuary staff. 

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