In August, 2007, the Brooklyn branch of Animal Care and Control contacted Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary about a young goat found wandering in Prospect Park. These calls are surprisingly common – there are over 100 live-kill markets (aka slaughterhouses) in the NYC area, and with that are frequent unclaimed escapees. Our van picked up the little white goat and transported him to our farm, along with 4 chickens and 2 ducks in search of greener pastures.
We named the little guy Albie, after the compassionate philosopher and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer.
As soon as he arrived we knew Albie needed special attention. He was underweight, undernourished and infected with the worst case we’d ever seen of Orf, a condition in which lesions cover the mouth and nose, making it painful to eat. On top of it all, his left leg and hoof were infected and sensitive to the touch. Before escaping, we believe he may have been hogtied – his legs tied tightly together – which is a routine way of transporting young goats intended for meat. The lack of circulation caused a large portion of his hoof to come off, exposing soft tissue that was very painful to walk on.
Albie’s mouth sores quickly healed; however, his hoof problem was so severe it was beyond our expertise. We took him to the vet several times and treated him with daily wraps and antibiotics. But after weeks of treatment it was clear his leg was not getting better. More drastic measures were necessary. In September, Albie made the trip to the Large Animal Hospital at Cornell University where he had part of his outer leg and hoof amputated.
The Run for Albie
Book publisher Martin Rowe ran the New York City ING marathon for the first time, raising over $11,000 to help with Albie’s medical bills. Martin completed the 26.2 miles in just under his goal of four hours. Kind folks from across the country pledged a dollar a mile or more (many tossed in extra if Martin completed the race in less than 4 hours, which he did). Martin Rowe is the co-founder of Lantern Books, publisher of books about animals, the environment, spirituality and vegetarianism.
Albie’s initial surgery, alas, did not take well. The residual bones were just too fragile to support his weight. Unfortunately, by Christmas, it was clear his leg needed to be amputated. It was a tough decision and hearts were heavy when Albie made anther trip to Cornell in January, where his left leg was amputated just above the knee.
The decision to amputate Albie’s leg was a particularly difficult one for sanctuary co-founder and director Jenny Brown, because she is an amputee herself.
At the age of 10, Jenny was diagnosed with a fast-moving bone cancer and her right leg had to be amputated just below the knee. This was followed by two years of aggressive chemotherapy. She has worn a prosthetic leg since.
Jenny recalls, “Having an illness like that as a child and being so close to death made me look at life differently – this included embracing the other species who inhabit the earth with us.” On a deeply personal level, Jenny understands the helplessness that the abandoned, injured and rescued farm animals feel, who arrive at the sanctuary. This is why she founded the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. “I wanted to be a part of the healing,” she says simply.
Unless told specifically, most people don’t even realize Jenny has an artificial leg. It definitely doesn’t slow her down. “It’s a leg not a lobotomy,” she comments.
Erik Thompkins, the Prosthetist who makes Jenny’s legs, worked with Albie for months to fit an artificial leg on him and get him walking. During that time he went from a shy, terrified little guy to a goofy, friendly troublemaker. But alas, Albie to continued to grow and his legs were becoming increasingly difficult to keep on him. Time and time again the little bugger would wiggle his leg out of his prosthetic, leaving us to search for it in the pasture or hidden in straw bedding in the barn.
See below of Animal Caretaker Dawnell Kilbourne luring Albie to walk with carrots and alfalfa cubes – two motivating treats! But even with the heavy-duty harness he was able to kick his leg off no matter what we tried.
UPDATE JULY 2014:
Albie’s New Wheels
As time went on it became increasing difficult to keep a prosthetic on him due to his amputation being above the knee. We tried harnesses, straps, different liners and just about everything you can think of to keep his leg on but alas, it would come off within minutes of walking.
So now we’re trying something altogether new–wheels!
Albie was fitted for a front support wheelchair made by the amazing folks at Eddie’s Wheels who worked with him at their shop in Shelburne, MA. On his second day of trying it out he was already much more confident in propelling himself forward in his new contraption and he seems pretty comfortable while in it. With some adjustments, determination and time we’re hoping that we may have found the solution that will allow Albie better mobility and comfort in his middle age and beyond.
Your support is vital to our work providing animals with the care they need – no matter the situation. Albie’s new wheel chair cost over $700 which is a small price to pay for a chance at a better life. Please help us continue our life-saving work for animals by making a donation today, or consider sponsoring Albie!
Albie in the News