Check in With Kiki, Dartmouth’s Miracle Sheep Beating the Odds
She was given terrible odds to live. One year later, Dartmouth's miracle sheep Kiki is still kicking.
Last January, I had the privilege to meet Kiki and hear her story. She was only 6 weeks old at the time, had been born with paralyzed legs and her own mother had refused to nurse her.
Deborah Devlin, president of the Don't Forget Us, Pet Us animal sanctuary in Dartmouth, did not refuse her, however, and her devotion to this little lamb is the main reason she is still kicking today.
Kiki beat all the odds given to her and turned 1 in November. So, of course, I had to head back to the sanctuary and see how her year had been.
One of first things Devlin told me was that she had finally learned what caused all of Kiki's medical issues at her birth.
After trying massage therapy, chiropractic treatments and even a tendon release surgery in attempts to get the animal's front legs to relax, Devlin learned that Kiki being mobile on her own would never be possible.
After the failed surgery, Devlin went to see a veterinary specialist in Connecticut who told her they were going to test for Cache Valley virus. Kiki tested positive.
What is Cache Valley Virus?
Cache Valley virus is a fairly rare disease that affects lambs and goats in utero. If an expecting lamb or goat gets bit by an infected mosquito between day 25 and 45 of their pregnancy, the fetus gets the disease and this typically results in miscarriage or stillbirth.
Somehow, Kiki survived.
So what does that mean for her development? According to Devlin, "Nobody knows. Kiki is setting the bar for that. [She] definitely has had significant stunted growth because, generally, a sheep like her at 1 would be about 100 pounds. So, she's only 38 pounds and that is totally saving her life."
Devlin stills needs to carry Kiki everywhere. Since Kiki's legs will never be able to support her weight, even placing her in her stroller still means pushing her around. If Kiki was over 100 pounds, Devlin doesn't think she could give her the kind of care she needs.
Kiki definitely isn't like the other animals at the sanctuary. She lives in Devlin's home instead of the barn, hangs out with the house cats more than the horses and has a wide array of adorable outfits for every season.
While Kiki may be the cuddliest animal at the sanctuary, she's certainly not the only animal at the sanctuary. From horses, cows and pigs to chickens, ducks and rabbits, Don't Forget Us, Pet Us takes in farm animals of all sorts and cares for them until they pass.
And their care can really add up.
How You Can Help With Kiki's Care
This non-profit organization relies on the support and generosity of the community, including you and me.
The farm is holding their end-of-the-year fundraiser and you can help. Any donation, which can be made right on the Facebook page, can help provide the grain, hay and medical care these animals need -- especially Kiki.
It's been an amazing year for Kiki and with donations for continued care, there could be a lot more to come.