Autumn couldn’t move his legs. He couldn’t even open his mouth. But he could still scream. His cries reached passersby, who followed the sound to an astonishing sight: a small goat lying in a dry creek bed, his limbs bound together and his mouth held shut with duct tape.
If he hadn’t been discovered, Autumn might have been eaten by a predator, or he might have died slowly and painfully from dehydration. Just who left him to that ghastly fate remains a mystery. We do know that the seven-month-old goat is a Nubian, a breed used primarily for dairy production. Whoever did this to Autumn, clearly regarded him as disposable. In that respect, he was viewed just like billions of other animals who are exploited for the production of food or other products every year.
When we learned of Autumn’s plight and rescue, we offered him a home at our Northern California Shelter. Considering what he had just survived, it was no surprise that Autumn was incredibly fearful when he arrived here. He was intent on finding ways to escape his stall and yard. We moved him to a more secure enclosure when his determination to squeeze through the slats of a gate made us worry that he might hurt himself. After a few days, however, it dawned on Autumn that he was safe. He stopped looking for a way out. He started to relax. Autumn is still too wary for us to approach and pet him, but through the patient efforts of his caregivers, he will slowly learn that the humans in his new home are his friends.
Autumn suffered emotional wounds, but he appears to have escaped his ordeal with no serious physical harm. A full examination and blood tests at the UC Davis veterinary hospital have confirmed that he is in good health. Once he has fully acclimated to his new environment, he will become a member of our goat herd. But with all he has endured, this little guy is not quite ready for that rowdy crowd just yet.
For now, Autumn will spend time among the more placid members of our sheep flock to help him settle in. He recently met another goat named Aidan, and the two bonded instantly. They are now best friends.
To help him gain some much-needed weight, we’ll jazz up his feed with molasses. He will now know the deep sense of security and well-being that gregarious animals like goats feel when surrounded by a big group of friends.
Autumn’s would-be killers tried to silence him by taping his mouth shut. But, his voice saved his life instead. Now, Autumn can look forward to many happy days among people who adore him.