Gwendolyn and Gavin: Goats Rescued from a Cockfighting Ring

When Gwendolyn and Gavin arrived at our New York Shelter, they were in rough shape. Both were suffering from internal parasites, mange, and a horrendous lice infestation. Gwendolyn had chicken-feather pneumonitis, a condition similar to that induced in industrial chicken-farm workers by the inhalation of dander, litter, and manure. Gavin was underweight, in pain, and very fearful. His fear was completely understandable considering what he and Gwendolyn had endured. Both goats had been confined at a giant cockfighting operation and were part of the ASPCA’s largest cockfighting bust in New York state history.


In cockfighting, roosters are pitted against each other in deadly combat, while hens are kept for breeding purposes, and both typically are held in deplorable conditions. Although the focus of these operations is the chickens, it’s not uncommon to find other farm animals housed on-site for a variety of purposes. As you would expect, these animals rarely receive adequate care. In fact, abuse and neglect are rampant. Luckily for Gwendolyn and Gavin, an ASPCA investigation led to their rescue from this brutal underworld.

Now, safe at the shelter, Gwendolyn and Gavin are getting the care they desperately need. In addition to immediately treating their parasite infestations and pneumonia, we have transitioned them to healthy diets and trimmed their terribly overgrown hooves. Gavin’s were especially problematic because he has laminitis in his front feet. This condition often causes permanent damage to the bones of the legs and feet, but with ongoing care and pain management, we hope to keep Gavin happy and comfortable. His laminitis was most likely caused by eating chicken grains and corn instead of a diet more suited to his species, including hay and grass. Gavin is improving already. He arrived unable to stay on his feet for more than a minute or so at a time and, instead, walked on his knees. Now most of his time is spent on his feet, and he is very active and playful.


Gavin’s painful foot condition caused him to walk on his knees

There’s more healing ahead for these two, but they are already feeling much better and beginning to make themselves at home. Having survived a harrowing ordeal together, they are very close, and their friendship is a great source of comfort to them.

The fear, pain, and disease that Gwendolyn and Gavin suffered were inflicted by a criminal operation, but such miseries are also well known to goats and other animals raised in legal enterprises. Where animals are exploited for profit, whether for entertainment or for consumption, they are vulnerable to mistreatment, which is overwhelmingly the norm in animal industries. Our two new arrivals share a common history of exploitation with Farm Sanctuary residents rescued from meat, milk, and egg production. But they share a common future, too — one of peace and contentment.