Patrick and Delilah: Crippled Goats Begin to Heal

Neglect literally brought Patrick to his knees. Barely able to bear weight on his deformed hooves and contorted legs, he was forced to crawl. At only a year old, he moved like an elderly goat crippled with arthritis.

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Patrick and his companion Delilah had lived in a small pen on a Long Island property. Both suffered with foot and leg ailments so severe and obviously untreated that multiple neighbors complained to local authorities. The two had extremely overgrown hooves and were later diagnosed with the inflammatory disease laminitis. Patrick crawled, and Delilah walked on her fetlocks with her hooves lifted. Both experienced constant pain.

Patrick’s condition had deteriorated so much that even the property owners took notice and asked a friend of theirs, an area hunter and police officer, to shoot the goat. The concerned man called a nearby nature preserve to ask for advice instead, and the preserve called us. We didn’t know the specific nature of the goats’ health issues, but we hoped to provide refuge and treatment in an effort save him.

The police officer and a staff person from the nature preserve persuaded the property owners to relinquish Patrick to us in lieu of shooting him and sending him to a butcher. It took two more days of urging, and possibly the fear of an investigation by animal control, before they agreed to release Delilah. The officer drove the goats immediately to Cornell University Hospital for Animals, where our staff waited to check them in and make sure they were comfortable

Treatment for Patrick
Patrick arrived with a fever, and his heart rate and respiration were elevated from the pain in his limbs. After much testing, veterinarians diagnosed him with carpal contracture. His aching, deformed hooves had forced him to crawl for so long that he could no longer fully extend his legs.

After Patrick’s condition had been stabilized for a few days, his doctors performed a tenotomy, operating on his shortened tendons. They cut two of the tendons and then straightening the legs with braces. After surgery, he began a regimen of medications to manage the intense pain that had plagued him for most of his life. Within a week of the surgery, Patrick was up and walking on his feet. He even became a little playful. For the first time since his rescue, he appeared happy.

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Ten days after his arrival at Cornell, Patrick was able to come home to our New York Shelter. After we helped him out of the trailer, he walked on his own across the yard to a stall at our Melrose Small Animal Hospital. Here, he will continue to heal and receive extensive physical therapy. Patrick’s legs will never be perfect, but in time he will walk with ease and no longer feel the pain he suffered for so long.

Treatment for Delilah
Delilah stayed with her dear companion at Cornell and rode home with him to our Watkins Glen shelter. Thankfully, she did not need surgery. She will, however, require ongoing pain management, hoof care, and physical therapy. And right now, we are helping her with a more pressing matter. While at Cornell, vets performed an ultrasound and discovered that Delilah was carrying twins and would soon give birth.

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In fact, it looked as though she might give birth at Cornell. When she still had not delivered by the time Patrick was ready for discharge, our shelter staff prepared for round-the-clock observation until the babies arrived. After only one all-night vigil at our shelter, it was time!

Delilah is only a year old, and this was her first pregnancy. The delivery was a challenge for both mom and the babies. As caregivers stood by ready to assist, she delivered her first daughter, Marilyn, with some difficulty. She immediately began grooming the newborn and allowed her to nurse. By the time second-born Ingrid emerged, Delilah was exhausted. She did her best to clean the feeble kid, and caregivers finished the job for her. Despite her inexperience, Delilah is a wonderful mother. She loves her daughters intensely and often sleeps with her head resting gently on them.

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Like her mother, little Ingrid will need physical therapy and tiny little leg splints. She was born with legs too weak to flex completely, so we have fitted her with temporary braces to support her as she grows. She is already doing much better, and both she and Marilyn are beginning to frolic.

Together, this family is learning to walk, play, and even jump for joy! As the kids take their first steps, their mom and her brother are taking their first steps into a new life as well.

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