Gloria lived at a racetrack, but she wasn’t there to run, and she didn’t. She couldn’t. Nor could she roam or graze or lounge in the grass. For the first eight years of her life, the little goat was kept tied up in a barn. More than two years ago, a volunteer at the track outside Chicago noticed that Gloria’s udders were getting larger. She brought her concerns to the track’s proprietor and to the “owner” of the goat and urged them to provide medical attention to Gloria. Her appeals fell on deaf ears, but she continued to try nonetheless. By the following year Gloria’s condition had become far worse, and pleading again for the goat to receive treatment, the volunteer at last convinced those responsible for the animal to release her into Farm Sanctuary’s care.
Other goats like Gloria languish behind the scenes at horse-racing tracks, where their presence is believed to calm high-strung racehorses. These goats are seen merely as tools to enhance the performance of their equine companions, and their own needs are often egregiously neglected. When we came for Gloria, we found her tethered with a 3-foot length of baling twine tied to a leather collar around her neck. Her face and ears were hairless, and her hooves were long and brittle. But the most obvious sign of neglect was the condition of her udders, which dragged on the ground and tripped her whenever she tried to walk even a single step.
We were concerned at first that this udder ailment might be the result of some other disease, but veterinarians at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals diagnosed the condition as inappropriate lactation syndrome. Whatever the underlying cause of the malady, however, it was clear that Gloria’s udders needed to be removed. A team of vets performed the mastectomy, excising the more than 19-pound udders from her 126-pound body. She recovered well from the surgery, and the next day she was able to return to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of our New York Shelter, where we continued to administer the antibiotic therapy begun at the hospital and gave her pain medications to keep her comfortable.
Now in recovery, Gloria continues to grow healthier and enjoys the attention of interns and staff members, who serve as excellent posts for vigorous head rubs. She stayed indoors for more than two weeks while healing from her surgery, but on an unusually warm day not long ago, Gloria ventured out to bask in the sun. No longer tied up, no longer weighed down, Gloria was for the first time free to walk wherever she pleased, and she did.