The odds were against little Rufio from the start: Born disabled on a family-operated goat farm, he had two strikes against him as soon as he was born. First, Rufio’s mother rejected him because he couldn’t stand — instead supporting his healthier twin sibling, who had a better chance of survival. And since she would not allow him to nurse, Rufio went without the immunity-boosting colostrum that he needed to be healthy.

Had he been healthy, Rufio — like his twin — would have been raised for meat. Sadly, even on smaller family farms, animal families are rarely permitted to stay together; goat kids who are used for meat, for example, are slaughtered at just a few months of age. Goats are herd animals, though, and they bond with their families for life when given that chance. Unfortunately, they rarely enjoy this basic right on most farms today — and no matter how they’re raised, it is never humane to slaughter someone who wants to live.

And Rufio clearly wanted to live with every fiber of his being; when he was found, however, he was on the brink of death. At first, the farmers didn’t even know that he existed; since Rufio’s mother had left him to fend for himself, they believed that she had given birth to only one kid, not two. They found him lying helplessly in a field the next day, and it seemed that Rufio did not have much time left. So they brought him into their home to keep him safe from predators, gently placing him in their bathtub so he could pass away peacefully.

But Rufio would not give up without a fight. Once inside, he became very vocal and began trying to move around. Impressed by his will to live, they gave him milk replacer and began tending to his needs. The family’s young daughter made Rufio her special charge — and for the next seven weeks, she did whatever she could to help him get back on his feet.

As he grew stronger, Rufio began moving around — dragging himself by his front legs, as he seemed unable to move his rear ones. The family knew that this plucky boy deserved the chance to live life to the fullest, and when they reached out to Farm Sanctuary for help, we gladly welcomed Rufio to our Southern California Shelter.

After a thorough examination, we discovered that Rufio wasn’t paralyzed, as his previous guardians had thought; he still had nerve responses in his right rear leg, though not in his left. We brought him to a large veterinary hospital for further diagnostics, and veterinarians confirmed that Rufio did have minimal movement in that leg. After conducting X-rays, multiple blood tests, a fecal test, and a physical exam, they observed that Rufio also has moderate to severe scoliosis and mild kyphosis — a rounding of the spine. With TLC and physical therapy, however, Rufio can get the leg up he needs — and with the help of a special wheeled cart, he can get around with greater ease and lead a happy, healthy life surrounded by his new friends.