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Goats Undergo Emergency Blood Transfusion

Friday afternoon. The workday was coming to an end and the caregiving staff were exhausted and ready to head home for the evening. They had spent the day tending to the animals, getting ready for weekend visitors…and with our local veterinarian.

Earlier that afternoon, Dr. Gunzburg, our local vet from Hurley, NY, had come to the Sanctuary with his assistant Marisa for an appointment. Some baby goats from our Tiniest Herd, along with a few of the mother goats, had not been feeling well. They had internal parasites which, in turn, caused anemia. Harper, Prince and Stella (Harper’s mom) were especially lethargic. Worried, Shelter Director Kathy Keefe called the vet for a check-up. Upon arrival, Dr. Gunzburg carefully examined the herd and took blood work to run later that afternoon.

The moms of the Tiniest Herd were rescued, pregnant and malnourished, from a backyard butcher last year. Because of the conditions the goats were kept in, they have susceptibility to illness and compromised immune systems. The weakened immune system, unfortunately, is also inherited by their babies. For the duration of their short lives thus far, they too, are affected in some way by the deplorable conditions their mothers lived in. A healthy goat can usually fight off internal parasites with just one dosage of dewormer medication, but the moms and babies of the Tiniest Herd would need more than that. The goats continued their parasite treatments and we waited for the blood work results.

Caregivers Todd and Dawnell help Kathy and vet during blood transfusion

Caregivers Todd and Dawnell help Kathy and vet during blood transfusion.

It was now 5 p.m. and the day was wrapping up. Kathy then received a phone call. It was Dr. Gunzburg with an urgent update: the blood work showed the goats were more anemic from the parasites than we initially thought—Harper, Prince and Stella especially. Four-month-old Harper was so extremely anemic that she was in danger of not making it through the night if we didn’t act quickly. All three would need an immediate blood transfusion, a potentially fatal procedure for animals that involves transferring the blood of one animal into another intravenously. Without hesitation, Kathy and the caregivers went to gather the ill goats and isolate them in our medical building—Dr. Gunzburg was already on his way back to the Sanctuary to perform the procedure.

Blood donors Clover (left) and Fern (right)

Blood donors Clover (left) and Fern (right).

Two of our very healthy and calm goats, Clover and Fern, would be the blood donors and lifesavers for Harper, Prince and Stella. They were taken to our medical building and given treats while the emergency transfusions took place. Kathy, the vet and caregivers, including a few who had traveled back to the Sanctuary to help, were working endlessly on the procedure until 11 p.m. that night. Dawnell Kilbourne and Todd Friedman, two caregivers not on duty at the time, even stayed overnight to keep an eye on them. It was because of this dedication from our staff and veterinarian that this life-threatening procedure went smoothly, and because of our heroes Clover and Fern that Stella, Harper and Prince’s lives were saved.

Harper gets treats from caregiver Dawnell during the procedure.

Harper gets treats from Caregiver Dawnell during the procedure.

Caregiver Todd with Prince.

Caregiver Todd with Prince.

Todd comforts a sleepy Prince after the transfusion.

Todd provides a shoulder for sleepy Prince after the transfusion.

Stella recovers after procedure.

Stella recovers after the procedure.

Harper catches up on sleep.

Harper catches up on sleep.

Update: Blood donors Clover and Fern were feeling great on Saturday morning—up early and demanding breakfast! As of today, Stella, Harper and Prince still reside in the medical building but are out of immediate danger and are starting to feel better. The others in the goat herd are on dewormer medication, fecal samples and bloodwork are being done on them, and all continue to be closely monitored. We are hoping to have them all feeling better soon.

Prince starts to feel himself again.

Prince starts to feel himself again.

Harper recovers with mom Stella.

Harper recovers with mom Stella.

We are so incredibly thankful to our veterinarian and caregiving staff who helped with this emergency procedure; those who watched and continue to watch the sick goats throughout the night; and of course for Clover and Fern, who saved the lives of our friends.

To all those who support Woodstock Farm Sanctuary—we couldn’t do this lifesaving work without you. On behalf of all the animals, THANK YOU ALL!