Last spring, animal control officers found Mo, a young, frightened sheep, running loose in a rural neighborhood in Southern California. Luckily for him, we monitor an online adoption board to check for farm animals at animal-control facilities near our Southern California Shelter in Acton.
Mo arriving at the Acton shelter on the first day.
Photo by Janet Holmes.
Mo, left, with Carlee, right, and flockmate Lucky in the background.
Mo has such a sweet face. Photo by Aaron Rosapepe.
Carlee and Mo.
Mo exploring. Photo by Aaron Rosapepe.
In California, stray farm animals retrieved by animal control
must be held for 14 days, during which time their legal owners can reclaim
them. (Dogs, by contrast, are required to be held for only four to six days.)
At some shelters, farm animals become available for adoption once any stray or
evidence holds expire. Farm animals available for adoption in the shelter
system where Mo was held are offered to the general public on a first-come,
first-served basis, with a $30 adoption fee for sheep and absolutely no
screening process for adopters. While many of these overburdened shelters forgo
screenings for dog and cat adopters as well, these traditional companion
animals are less likely to face the perils that we suspect befall farm animals.
Naturally, we fear that many of these farm animals are “adopted” not as
companions, but as sources of food or income.
Mo at the animal shelter.
Mo remained unclaimed as his holding period came to an end,
and we knew we had to act fast to help him. The shelter opened its doors at 8 a.m., and to
ensure that they were the first people in line for Mo, Farm Sanctuary staff members arrived at 5
a.m. When the shelter opened, they immediately signed up to adopt Mo. Minutes
later, the shelter received a call inquiring about him. Our new friend was in
the clear, however, and soon on his way to sanctuary.
Who could resist that face? (Photo by Alexandra Caswell.)
When Mo arrived at the sanctuary, he was skinny and
intact (meaning not yet neutered). A year and a half later, he is
completely transformed. Not only is he now neutered, but he also is tipping the scales in the other direction — fat and
happy, some might say. But the greatest
and most noteworthy transformation is in the way Mo now trusts us fully and
Unlike many of our residents, Mo was not frightened of us when he arrived; he was timid, but not terrified. In fact, upon his arrival at Farm Sanctuary, he immediately accepted affection from caregiver Daniel Singleton. Just a few hours
earlier, at the animal shelter, he’d been terrified of Daniel, but he quickly changed his tune at sanctuary: Daniel
was suddenly his best friend. Somehow, he knew he was safe
— maybe for the
— and loved.
Daniel gives Mo some affection shortly after his arrival.
Mo is now one of the most people-friendly sheep at the
Southern California Shelter, and a staff favorite. He is particularly generous in giving his
humanimal friends kisses — lots and lots of kisses, unprompted wonderful kisses
on the nose — and we sure do love to kiss him back. In fact, Mo has become so accustomed to
receiving human kisses that he frequently stretches his neck out and leans
up for a kiss whenever we’re around, trying to steal kisses (along with our hearts!).
Mo reaching up for a kiss. (Photo by Kim Kaspari.)
Stealing hearts is what Mo does best, by far. On tour days and event days, Mo’s star shines
bright. He jovially greets visitors as
if they, too, are trusted friends. Children
are particularly drawn to Mo, probably in part because his small stature does
not intimidate them, and maybe also because of the impressiveness of his noble
horns. Awed children do not
intimidate or scare Mo; instead, he allows them to marvel at him and is fond of
Mo visits with a young guest during our recent Twilight Tour event. (Photo by Andrew Lasken.)
Mo’s charm is not limited to his human friends
— he is also quite a hit with the lady
sheep. His main squeeze is Carlee, the
only other mini Katahdin sheep at the sanctuary. When we rescued Mo, we suspected and hoped
that he and Carlee would bond. Though Carlee
was initially reticent in response to Mo’s attempts at courting her, Mo did not give up, and
she eventually relented to courtship, unable to ignore his sheepish allure. Gradually, Mo and Carlee began spending time
together, first noted when they were spotted lying next to each other in the barn. At
first, it seemed to be an occasional phenomenon.
But their relationship went from occasional to constant overnight.
The two of them are now frequently found
together. Mo is madly in love with
Carlee, and he doesn’t care who knows it.
Carlee, on the other hand, is not much for public displays of affection. With grace and poise, she humors him,
allowing him to dance and prance his way into her heart (and ours).
Mo putting on a show for Carlee as Yoda llama looks on.
As much as Mo loves Carlee
— and he does
monogamy may not be
his strong suit. He seems to have taken
a special interest in Nina and Kelley lambs. The closely bonded girls have not formed any
strong connection with any other sheep or goats, but Mo has been trying hard to
become the first resident to make inroads with the pair. Thus far, his advances have been rebuffed. From
his love affair with Carlee, though, we know that he is persistent and does not
easily accept failure. A common late-afternoon sight
at the sanctuary is Mo lying on the ground ten to twenty feet from
the girls. Though it may be an optical
illusion, it seems that he draws subtlety nearer every day. His strategy is genius, if not a little
creepy. When Nina and Kelley are of age
to want suitors, Mo will appear as the obvious choice.
Young Kelley (front) and Nina (rear) have attracted Mo’s interest.
Mo getting some love from his friend and caregiver Jessica at the temporary evacuation site where we spent a few days over the summer during a wildfire incident that affected the Acton area.
Mo is an overall good-natured guy who gets along well with everyone he
encounters — sheep, goat, and human alike.
Caregiver Jessica Due, Mo’s greatest fan, concisely sums it up: “Mo
Mo with buddy Jessica.
Please share Mo’s story. Together, we can encourage awareness and understanding that every farm animal is a unique individual with a rich emotional life. With your support, we can continue to promote compassionate vegan living through rescue, education, and advocacy efforts. A compassionate world begins with you!
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