HIGH FALLS – Oreo the goat has been through a heck of a lot during her nine years on this earth. In 2015, she was rescued from a neglectful petting zoo in Montvale, New Jersey, by non-profit Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. Then in 2018 she had to be rushed to an animal hospital because her abdomen was filling up with fluid. She had to be hospitalized again in March of this year for the same abdominal issue.
The veterinarians confirmed that there was inflammation caused by a tumor pushing against the part of her body known as the vagus nerve, affecting her stomach functions. They suggested Oreo be euthanized. But Hervé Breuil, the shelter director, didn’t let their negative diagnosis determine Oreo’s fate.
“One day during this time, I saw Oreo sunbathing in the pasture with her best friend Estella the goat, who she was rescued with. I knew in that moment we could not give up on her and that we had to try something experimental,” said Breuil.
The experimental treatment: a 3D-printed rubber “fistula valve” to help release the pressure from her stomach. On April 17, Oreo became the first goat to receive the 3D-printed valve.
Breuil reportedly worked with Dr. Isabelle Louge, who designed the valve. The valve, now patented by Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, was produced by RapidMade, a technology company based in Portland, Oregon.
The medical costs have run to about $5,000, and Oreo has already had to be fitted for a new cap to the valve since the surgery, one that she won’t be able to remove. (She is a goat after all, and goats like to chew on things.) But she appears to be in much better shape.
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary says it’s the first animal organization to use this valve on a goat; Dr. Louge and Dr. Isaac Angel, owner of the practice, plan to publish this procedure in a medical journal.
The petting zoo that Oreo came from shuttered its doors in 2015. Staff and visitors reportedly complained about filthy pens filled with manure and rotting food, with no room for animals to run and no grass for grazing. According to the Sanctuary, sick or lame animals would often be sold for slaughter instead of receiving veterinary care. So, along with with Oreo, the Sanctuary rescued Caesar the steer, Yoyo the tiny donkey, Fluffy the sheep, hens Rita and Adrianna, and three other goats: Brownie, Estella and Noel.
Anyone looking to visit these rescued animals can stop by Woodstock Farm Sanctuary (2 Rescue Road, High Falls) for a free tour every Saturday and Sunday from now through October. Visit woodstocksanctuary.org for more information.