After nearly losing her life, a young goat named Alice is getting the fresh start she needs at Farm Sanctuary’s Southern California Shelter and winning the hearts of all she meets.
Before coming to Farm Sanctuary, Alice lived with a girl who had purchased her for a 4-H project. In 4-H and Future Farmers of America farm-animal programs, young participants typically raise their animals to be shown at local fairs, and “complete” their projects by selling them at auction. Sadly, this often means that the animals they’ve loved and cared for wind up on the slaughter line.
If not for an often-misunderstood diagnosis, this likely would have been Alice’s fate. But instead, she was discovered to have caseous lymphadenitis, or CL — a contagious, incurable disease that causes abscesses throughout the body. As a result, her young guardian’s father deemed Alice useless; because of her illness, she wouldn’t sell at auction. Additionally, he did not want to risk keeping Alice and having the disease spread among the family’s healthy animals. The man considered shooting her as a means of “putting her out of her misery” — but anyone who’s met Alice can see that there’s nothing miserable about her. She’s a happy, active girl in spite of her condition, and the man decided that she deserved to live the life she so clearly loved.
With this change of heart, he decided to contact a local sanctuary to see if they had room for Alice. But many sanctuaries refuse to accept CL-positive goats, out of fear that the disease will spread among their herds. What they may not realize, however, is that many of their goat residents likely have this disease already, a fact that more thorough health-testing procedures would make clear. In reality, CL-positive goats can live long, healthy lives when they receive the care and treatment they need; in fact, a number of our goat friends have demonstrated just that at Farm Sanctuary. When we learned about Alice’s situation, we set out to help her live her best life at our Southern California Shelter.
As soon as she arrived at sanctuary, Alice began a quarantine period — a precaution we take with all incoming animals for the protection of all of our residents. During this time, we conduct routine testing and diagnostics, including bloodwork and fecal exams, to assess the health of new residents and ensure that they do not have any potentially contagious illnesses. (Alice’s CL is not an issue in this case, as our herd is already exposed to this condition.) We also address any immediate issues we discover upon a new resident’s arrival; for example, when we removed Alice’s ear tags, we saw that her left ear was infected and needed treatment, which we provided.
During their initial quarantine periods, we spend a lot of time getting to know each new resident as an individual. Some, for example, come in very frightened, and it may take some time to earn their trust. Some animals may never wind up liking humans, which we understand and respect; with these animals, we provide the necessary, individualized care they need while offering them the freedom and space to live life on their own terms. Alice, on the other hand, loves her new caregivers and sought out human contact from the start — and we immediately fell in love with her in return.
Alice was a wonderful patient throughout her quarantine period; she handled tests and treatments with ease, and loved all the attention she received from her new, adoring caregivers. As much as we loved this one-on-one time, however, we also looked forward to introducing her to a herd once all tests were clear.
As it turned out, initial diagnostics revealed internal parasites, which have since been successfully treated. Alice also has some elevated blood levels that we are monitoring, but this does not pose significant risks at this time. She is strong and healthy overall — despite her CL — with promise for a rich, fulfilling life ahead.
Recently, Alice was ready to join a herd of her own! We decided to introduce her to the residents of our sheep barn, which is also home to our gentler goat residents. Alice fit right in from the start, and has plenty of new playmates — sheep, goats, and humans alike. She’s never without the attention and affection she loves; she splits her time between roughhousing with the younger goats, relaxing with her elderly friends, and receiving pets and scratches from every human she meets.
At Farm Sanctuary, Alice has a new family she loves and a happy, peaceful life ahead of her. It’s difficult to fathom that she nearly lost her life because someone found her useless; we see her as priceless — as someone, not something. We are so glad that she can show the world exactly who she is, and that she can experience the incredible life she deserves.