Jenny Brown, who runs a sanctuary for farm animals in Woodstock, N.Y., with Albie, who is believed to have fled a Brooklyn slaughterhouse. She has arranged for him to receive an artificial leg. Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times
Yes Virginia there are still wonderful people in the world :)
A Rescued Goat Gets a Chance for a Normal Life
By FERNANDA SANTOS
WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — They are both amputees: She lost part of her right leg to bone cancer at the age of 10, and he lost part of his left leg four months ago because of an injury he most likely suffered at a Brooklyn slaughterhouse.
Her name is Jenny Brown, and she is a 36-year-old television producer turned animal rights advocate. His name is Albie, and he is a goat of unknown age and breed.
They met last August, after Albie was plucked from Prospect Park and taken to the animal sanctuary Ms. Brown has owned here since 2004. Albie was malnourished and sickly at the time, his mouth covered in sores, his leg and hoof badly infected, Ms. Brown recalled. His injuries seemed to indicate that he had been hogtied before he broke free and made his way to the park.
Ms. Brown said that she tried to save Albie’s leg, treating it with ointments and homeopathic remedies, but that the wound would not heal. In December, Albie’s leg was amputated just above the knee.
He is now awaiting a prosthesis, a very rare indulgence for a farm animal. And the same technician who fitted Ms. Brown with a new artificial leg is also designing Albie’s.
“I’ve been an amputee for most of my life, but I can run a farm, I can wrestle animals, I can carry bales of hay, thanks to modern prosthetics,” Ms. Brown said. “I thought it would be only fair to give Albie the same chance to live a normal life.”
Ms. Brown was born and raised in Kentucky, the only child of a single mother who worked the night shift as a nurse. She said she always loved animals, but was allowed to have a pet only after she was told she had cancer. She adopted a kitten and named it Boogie. The kitten kept her company when chemotherapy left her too weak to go to school.
Ms. Brown stopped eating meat at 18 and dairy products about six years ago, after she did some video for an animal rights organization at stockyards in Texas. She has done work for ABC, PBS and the Discovery Channel, but now devotes herself to the refuge, the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. It subsists on donations and is home to Albie and dozens of other abused animals, including bulls, turkeys and ducks.
Albie’s life story is less clear. He has white fur, yellow eyes, floppy ears and horns that rise from his forehead in opposite directions, like a curved V. Ms. Brown says he seems young in terms of weight, but is probably close to full size and is likely a cross between an Anglo-Nubian and some other goat breed. She named him after Albert Schweitzer, the medical missionary in Africa who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
Officers of Brooklyn Animal Care and Control caught Albie near the southeast corner of Prospect Park last summer. He had gashes above his hooves, an indication that his legs had been bound, which Ms. Brown said is how animals are often transported to the slaughterhouse, of which there are more than 100 around New York City.
The binding must have been so tight that it cut the blood flow to Albie’s left leg, Ms. Brown said.
Erik J. Tompkins, the certified prosthetist who designed Ms. Brown’s leg and is designing Albie’s, said that he had fitted an animal with a fake limb only once, six years ago, and that was a horse with a front leg shorter than the other three.
“I’m not an expert on fitting animals, but I’ve fitted some complicated humans, so I thought it wouldn’t be much more difficult to fit Albie,” said Mr. Tompkins, who has been in the business for 16 years.
Dr. N. Kent Ames, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, said that using prosthetics on farm animals was “very rare,” in large part because it did not make economic sense.
“Most farm animals are commodities, and the value of the animal is usually lower than the cost of the prosthesis,” Dr. Ames said in a telephone interview. He added that in more than 30 years in veterinary medicine, “I’ve amputated more than a few limbs on farm animals, but I’ve never put a prosthetic device on any of them.”
Ms. Brown said that Albie’s amputation surgeries cost about $5,000, and that she did not yet know the price of the prosthesis (hers was about $20,000). Albie does not have health insurance, but among his benefactors are Martin Rowe, a book publisher who lives in Carroll Gardens and ran the New York Marathon last fall on Albie’s behalf.
The goat, who now must do an awkward sort of hop from hind legs to front leg to propel himself forward, tried his new leg for the first time last week. Ms. Brown said he seemed to walk with ease, but Mr. Tompkins thought the prosthesis needed some tweaking to make sure it remained in place as Albie strolled and skipped around the fields.
“This is about giving one of our animals a better quality of life, just like you would do for a house pet or a kid,” Ms. Brown said. “And what we’re hoping here is that Albie will walk again on four legs.”
Able to walk thanks to a prosthesis, Jenny Brown thought Albie should have one, too.
You can read the NY Times feature here :)
Visit the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary online here :)