Emergency Rescue: Twenty Imperiled Animals Will Sleep in Warmth & Safety at Farm Sanctuary Tonight
Earlier today, five members of Farm Sanctuary’s Emergency Rescue Team and Mike Stura from Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue spent four hours rescuing 17 sheep (including six lambs), two goats, and a bull calf from a property about two hours west of our shelter in Watkins Glen, NY.
The sheep were terrified, but the young bull and the goats came to us willingly — they were so desperately hungry.
The animals have been living without any shelter at all — no place to escape from driving rain, gusting winds, and freezing temperatures. When we arrived, they were hoof-deep in snow, shivering, with nowhere to go.
The conditions were so difficult and the sheep so frightened that, in some cases, we needed to practically “sled” down this hill while holding them in order to get them off the property and to safety. Here, Senior Shelter Manager Tara Hess executes this maneuver with a scared sheep.
Last night must have been excruciating for them. Temperatures dipped down into the low twenties, with wind chills and snow squalls making it feel even colder. The animals must have spent the night desperately huddled together for warmth. It would be the only way to survive such brutal conditions, especially for the lambs.
Tara and me attempting to herd some of the sheep toward the trailer. They didn’t yet understand that they were headed to safety, so the herding didn’t wind up working as well as it would have under better circumstances. We wound up having to put halters on most of them in order to guide them.
By some miracle, they made it through the night. But they are in terrible condition and need urgent care.
Mike Stura of Skylands and Farm Sanctuary Senior Caregiver Mike Cogliano guide a frightened sheep toward the trailer to safety.
I’m particularly worried about the six lambs. Babies are more vulnerable to cold, and these sweethearts have had no protection from the elements beyond the valiant efforts of their mothers. Hypothermia and frostbite are serious concerns.
I’m also certain that some of the sheep are pregnant. I’m grateful that none of them gave birth in these recent cold temperatures — the babies would have never survived. However, pregnant sheep means we will soon have more births at Farm Sanctuary. We need to make sure the mothers-to-be are properly nourished and healthy enough to make it through what could be very difficult deliveries.
As for nutrition, many of the sheep look thin and
undernourished. There was no food in sight and no water source; they had
resorted to eating tree bark to stave off their hunger. I can tell by the
matted, patchy condition of their coats that they are not well — they
definitely need to be looked at for lice and other biting and internal
Mike C. carries a sheep toward the trailer.
I haven’t talked about the poor goats or little bull yet, mostly because I get choked up thinking about them. They were so hungry they ran to us and up on to the trailer with no prodding. The three of them were clearly starving.
The young bull is terribly thin and eagerly ate the grain we gave him.
I’m especially concerned about the male goat, whose ribs and spine are clearly visible. He’s emaciated and looks awful. One glance at his overgrown hooves makes me think he has never received any care at all. These animals were just thrown out in the pasture with the sheep to fend for themselves. Thankfully, they are not alone now.
Poor calf in the trailer, his emaciated state plain to see.
Two hours after we left that terrible place with the animals in tow, we arrived at Farm Sanctuary and carefully helped them out of the truck and into our Rescue and Refuge Barn, where they were met by friendly faces, heated floors, straw beds, and lots of hay. They are fearful of their new surroundings, but we hope they will feel warm and protected. For the first time in their lives, they will receive proper care, and shelter from the cold.
Mike S. carries a sheep from the trailer after our arrival at Farm Sanctuary, greeted by shelter staffers who’ve prepared a new temporary home where these animals will spend their first night in safety.
In fact, they will never be vulnerable to the elements again — because at Farm Sanctuary they can move freely from pasture to barn whenever they choose. And in cold nighttime conditions like we had last night, animals choose the barn. I can barely imagine how cold these poor animals were last night, standing in the snow as the wind whipped around them.
Newly rescued sheep in a warm barn with soft bedding at last.
While there are still many unknowns about this rescue and what it will take to save these animals, it is clear that they are fighters. They could not have survived this long otherwise.
Bringing hay for our hungry new arrivals.
As you can see, they were happy to get it and wasted no time digging in.
With their continued determination, our expert care, and your generous support, we will do everything in our power to ensure they make full recoveries.
Mike C. visiting quietly with the goats, who seemed so relieved to have food and warmth at last.
This sweet goat’s condition is of particular concern (though it is clear that they have all been through so much and have a tough road ahead).
It has been a long day and it is just the beginning. Please help make sure Farm Sanctuary has the resources necessary to care for these newest residents, rescue more animals in crisis, and continue all our work for farm animals by donating to our Emergency Rescue Fund. As always, we are so thankful for your support!
Checking one of the sheep and trimming hooves during an initial examination with Shelter Manager Jill Tedeschi.
One of Mike C.’s new goat friends coming up to investigate while he trims the overgrown hoof of another new arrival.
Checking my notes. “Are you writing something nice about me?”
Removing the ear tag from a newly rescued sheep.
Snug in a new coat, things are finally looking up for this sweetheart.