Since my internship is ending in one week, I have decided to post an animal story per day. Today I am starting with Bear.
When Los Angeles-area animal control agents found Bear in an abandoned barn, the tiny newborn lamb’s umbilical cord was still attached and had not been cleaned. Her mother was nowhere in sight, nor were any other sheep. Bear may have been left behind when the flock was moved to a new location. At the most vulnerable time of her life, this little girl was completely alone.
Fortunately, the agents knew to contact Alicia Pell, a volunteer rescuer who has played a pivotal role in a number of our Southern California Shelter rescues. Alicia called Farm Sanctuary immediately and then rushed Bear to our veterinarian’s office. When Bear arrived, she was dehydrated and limp. She had not nursed from her mother, so medical attention was imperative. The clinic staff started her on IV fluids, and, thankfully, she took to a bottle quickly.
Because Bear had been denied the chance to nurse from her mother, she did not receive the vital, immunity boosting colostrum that baby ruminants can receive only from a mother’s milk. Without these essential nutrients, the young lamb’s improperly treated umbilicus posed a serious threat for infection. Bear had also been deprived of the incredibly close, affectionate bond that mother sheep share with their babies. Despite this loss, Bear still has a lot of love and joy to give, much to the delight of all her new friends.
Once Bear gained a little strength, she quickly set about endearing herself to her caretakers at the veterinary clinic, where she received the special care and observation she needed. Soon, she was up and about, following staff members around the office. After a couple of days, Bear was ready to come to the Southern California Shelter. Although she was isolated from our other animals until her immune system is stronger, Bear was already making friends with the goats and sheep whose enclosure borders the shelter office. This vocal girl frequently communicates with a one-year-old goat named Erika and with Mary, an elderly sheep who is intrigued by her mysterious and talkative new neighbor.
Someone once overlooked Bear, abandoning her to suffer a lonely and painful end. Here at the shelter, however, this winsome new resident is impossible to ignore. Now, a year later after she was rescued, Bear is thriving at the shelter and is possibly the cutest lamb I have ever met. I hope to keep Bear’s spirit in my mind and heart when I leave.