Sadie had no business being in the business world. The young goat was born on a property owned by a sand and gravel company. She and her herdmates descended from goats once provided as gifts, who then were left to freely breed. For the most part, workers went about their day, leaving the goats to fend for themselves—but Sadie caught one staffer’s eye as she struggled to keep up with the herd.
In fact, Sadie could barely walk. Her hind end drooped with each step, and she had sores on her legs from dragging them along the ground. She was also very timid; the larger goats liked to pick on her, and she had trouble getting away.
The concerned worker took pity on her, and gave her a wheelchair to help her get around. But with responsibilities like balancing the books, there was little time left to help balance a goat, too. New problems also sprang up: with wheelchair in tow, Sadie had trouble clearing the trees when trying to hide from the other goats. Stuck in the woods—alone, afraid, and covered with ticks and thorns—she desperately needed help.
As Sadie’s condition continued to decline, her ally asked if we could take her in. The next day, we welcomed Sadie to our New York Shelter, accompanied by two employees from the sand and gravel facility. They looked on as we helped support Sadie’s weight, and followed us back to her temporary enclosure—a side pen connected to our turkey barn—to see her settle in. Touched by her courage and resilience, they left happy to know that she had a second chance.
We brought Sadie to Cornell University’s Nemo Farm Animal Hospital to determine the cause of her drooping, wobbly legs. At first, we suspected that she had sustained injuries from over-mounting; the other goats were much larger than she was, and breeding on the lot had gone unregulated. Her prognosis was, unfortunately, more complicated than that. Sadie tested positive for Paraelaphostrongylus tenuis (P tenuis), aka meningeal worm. If left untreated, this parasite can cause severe and irreversible neurological damage. Sadie’s condition could continue to worsen and prevent her from walking or standing at all.
Sadly, we’ve seen this happen before: Benedict, a goat rescued from cruelty in 2015, sustained permanent damage from meningeal worm. His previous “owner” failed to provide timely treatment, instead leaving Benedict to suffer. We tried everything we could to alleviate his symptoms—from routine monitoring, to medication, to time in a wheelchair to maintain his quality of life. Ultimately, he lost complete function in his hind end and could no longer get up on his own.
We’re doing everything we can to keep Sadie on her feet for as long as possible. Animals with P tenuis can recover if treated early enough. We started by placing Sadie on a five-day medication course to eliminate the parasites from her system. Only time will tell how her body will respond; she may very well need her wheelchair someday if it’s too late for treatment to have much effect. This is a last resort, however; relying too heavily on a wheelchair can place too much pressure on ruminants’ organs—causing their bodies to shut down.
For now, Sadie can still support her own weight—and she only drags her legs when she tries to move too fast. We continue to check and recheck her prognosis so we can best provide the support that she needs.
Paramount to her healing is her new friend Holly—a sheep overcoming a leg injury, herself. We placed them together once both girls were healthy enough to be around other animals. Though Holly was a bit wary of her new roommate at first, the two are now inseparable. If we need to separate them briefly for treatment, the other will cry until we reunite them. Sadie and Holly are still shy around people, but their bond is giving them each the strength to get back on their feet.
The pair now lives in our West Campus Goat Barn, along with goat trio Clarabell, Archibald Salt, and The Earl of Pepper! Being in a larger group helps Sadie feel more secure; goats are herd animals and find safety in numbers. She’s also beginning to let her guard down—since her new friends seem to enjoy our attention, she is slowly starting to trust us as well. Occasionally, Sadie will take a chance and approach us for treats, which we’re more than happy to supply! No matter what Sadie’s future has in store, she will always receive the care she needs, and be surrounded by the individuals she loves.