Jolene: Desert Stray Finds an Oasis

Jolene was in rough shape when she entered a Southern California animal shelter. Her poor health turned out to be her ticket to sanctuary.

Sheep rescue
Jolene on her way to Farm Sanctuary.

Jolene and another ewe were found near Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave Desert. The two were likely from the same commercial flock as Koda Mae, a sheep we adopted from an animal services facility after she, too, was found loose in the desert. Like Koda Mae, Jolene had a letter and number painted on her side, and, like Koda Mae, she had probably been exploited as a breeding ewe. She arrived at the animal services facility emaciated and crawling with fleas, ticks, and other parasites, for which shelter staff administered treatment.

Because Jolene and her friend had distinct ID markings, animal services staff contacted the brand inspector for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, who was able to identify their legal owner. By law, the owner had 14 days to reclaim the sheep, which he exercised to take only one, leaving Jolene at the shelter. Presumably he rejected Jolene because, as an old, very underweight sheep, she had no economic value to him. Jolene’s companion was allowed to return to the same owner under whose care Jolene’s health reached such critical condition. The dearth of legal protections for farm animals, combined with complacency toward cruel but widely accepted farming practices and general lack of knowledge about the care of farm animals, often discourages or prevents agencies from challenging irresponsible caregivers.

Sheep rescue
The paint is still there, but at Farm Sanctuary, Jolene will never again be just a number.

We monitor an online adoption board to check for farm animals at animal services facilities near our Southern California Shelter in Acton. When we saw Jolene on the board, we knew she was in bad shape and likely from the same flock as Koda Mae, so we made plans to get her to sanctuary.

The day that Jolene’s holding period ended, National Placement Coordinator Alicia Pell arrived bright and early to adopt her before anyone with ulterior motives had the chance. While Alicia waited for Jolene, she was warned by a couple of the facility’s staff members that Jolene was mean. Upon meeting the sheep, Alicia knew immediately that this wasn’t true. Jolene wasn’t mean; she was terrified. Exploited, neglected, separated first from her flock and then from her only remaining friend, Jolene had little reason to trust humans.

Now safe at sanctuary, receiving the care and protection she needs, this disillusioned but curious sheep has every reason to trust her new home and caregivers. All she needs is love and time, and she has plenty of both now.

Sheep rescue
Thanks to our generous supporters, we are able to rescue individuals like Jolene from lives of abuse, neglect and disinterest. If you aren’t already a member of Farm Sanctuary, won’t you consider joining so you can be part of this amazing community of compassion? A compassionate world begins with you.