Found motherless, cold and starving in central New York, the suckling babies were the only survivors out of a group of 20 helpless animals-who were purchased and left to fend for themselves in a frightening, lonely world. Now dependent upon the mercy of humans for survival, the lambs were in desperate need of safe refuge, ’round-the-clock intensive care and constant, loving attention-needs we were more than happy to fulfill.
Knowing all too well that the lives of these delicate creatures hung in the balance, a healthcare staff member and our cruelty investigator responded quickly and were on the road-within hours- to pick up the lambs and bring them to safety at our rescue and rehabilitation facility in Watkins Glen. Three of the lambs were transported to nearby Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, where they will remain in temporary foster care until we can permanently place them into a compassionate forever home.
Anxiously anticipating the arrival of our newest family members, our tireless shelter staff worked into the late evening, carefully preparing a safe and sterile environment-equipped with heat lamps, clean straw and warm blankets- and readying plenty of bottles to feed and nourish our fragile wards. When the babies finally arrived, hungry and worn-out from their trip, we were ready to act fast.
Barely old enough to comprehend their situation, the lambs we greeted had already experienced trauma to last a lifetime. “Regardless of the hundreds of rescues I’ve been involved in, I am never prepared for that first, heartbreaking glimpse into the eyes of an animal treated with such indifference,” said Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director. “What these lambs endured was incomprehensible. Their umbilical cords were still attached, and they were brutally ear-tagged, desperately thin, and visibly seeking comfort only their real mothers could provide.”
As we attended to the immediate needs of five of the babies-removing their ear tags, treating infected wounds, and urging them to accept milk replacer from a bottle- two of the tiniest lambs, Elijah and Madeline, were receiving intensive care from veterinarians at Cornell University’s state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, where all the lambs were initially assessed before coming to the farm.