Rescue Story

Pippa’s Journey: How Teamwork Brought a Rescued Lamb to Sanctuary

Pippa lamb at Farm Sanctuary

Rescue Story

Pippa’s Journey: How Teamwork Brought a Rescued Lamb to Sanctuary

Who are sheep?

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Pippa’s rescue was a bicoastal endeavor.

In June, Farm Sanctuary staff collaborated on a special project: bringing Pippa, a three-legged lamb, from our Watkins Glen, New York shelter to her new home in Acton, California.

Splitting the cross-country trip in half, each team drove 20 hours to Nebraska. Upon meeting, the New York team carried Pippa from the straw-laden rescue van to the matching one headed back to California. To ease the strain of travel for Pippa, the teams only stopped to refuel, change drivers, and tend to their precious passenger’s care. After two days on the road, our caregivers placed Pippa onto steady ground: a safe place to land after a shaky start to life.

Pippa's origins

Pippa was born on a farm that raises sheep for meat. Had she been healthy, she might have been slaughtered within eight months — the standard age for lamb’s meat production — or used to breed other lambs for slaughter. However, the farm reported Pippa failed to thrive, seemed partially blind, and had an injured hind leg. Despite all this, she went weeks without treatment.

A representative explained that as a fully operational farm, they didn’t have the time or money to invest in her care. Unfortunately, this is common in animal agriculture: Most farmers will only invest in animals they can sell, killing sick animals or leaving them to die. It’s more cost-effective to replace them — and to reallocate their food and basic upkeep — than to spend time and money when they may not recover.

The farm asked if we could take Pippa off their hands, and our Rescue and Placement team stepped in right away to arrange transport and quarantine space for Pippa at Farm Sanctuary. Then they drove 10 hours from our New York shelter to pick up Pippa and take her home.

Pippa might stay at Farm Sanctuary long-term, as we are within an hour’s drive from Cornell and could arrange any follow-up care she might need. If she returned to good health, we could also place Pippa in a loving home through our Farm Animal Adoption Network. This network is a nationwide collective of homes and sanctuaries that helps us find safe connections for farm animals in need.

Pippa lamb at Farm Sanctuary

Pippa was reserved and in pain when she first came into our care.


  • Pippa arrives at our New York shelter.

  • Pippa's rear right leg is amputated above the hock.

  • Pippa and the Watkins Glen team leave for Nebraska.

  • The New York and California teams meet in Nebraska; Pippa is transferred to the California team.

  • Pippa goes to a large animal hospital in California for incoming evaluation.

  • Pippa comes home to our Acton Sanctuary.

  • Pippa and Biscuit meet.

Pippa's health report

Six-week-old Pippa was mellow and quiet, expending less energy than other lambs her age. Still, she had a normal appetite and took to bottle feedings well. She also started to perk up as her vision returned — her doctors ruled out blindness as she responded to topical antibiotic treatment.

Her leg, however, wouldn’t be as easy to treat. Pippa had a severe infection in her right rear hock — a joint like the ankle in humans. It likely began from lack of care after birth: Infections can enter the body through the umbilicus if it isn’t cleaned well and then infect the joints. Additionally, if Pippa didn’t get enough colostrum — the immunity-boosting nutrients in her mother’s first milk — she wouldn’t have enough antibodies to heal.

Had the farm sought treatment for Pippa early on, she might have recovered fully. Instead, the infection progressed and ravaged the bone, preventing Pippa from extending her leg and making it difficult to stand or walk.

Pippa lamb at Farm Sanctuary

Pippa struggles to stand and straighten her leg.

Most farmers will only invest in animals they can sell, killing sick animals or leaving them to die.

Her doctors tried flushing the infection from the joint and performed surgery to remove the damaged parts of the bone. While her mobility improved, the infection persisted. They considered a bone graft to offset the loss of bone and provide Pippa with more stability.

Ultimately, as the infection showed resistance to treatment, her veterinarians agreed that the best course of action would be to amputate her leg above the hock. Amputation would remove the infection and reduce Pippa’s pain so she could get back on her feet.

Shortly after surgery, she improved.

Moving forward

As she recovered, Pippa’s mood brightened and her true personality emerged — one no longer clouded by pain. She grew vocal and lively, bleating for bottles at the top of her lungs and racing around as fast as her legs would allow. To accommodate Pippa’s need for speed, her doctors tried fitting her for a prosthetic. The new limb wasn’t a good fit. However, Pippa still had other options and could always try again when she grows a little bigger.

Once stable, Pippa came home to our New York shelter. We gave her a room at our on-site hospital — padded with wood shavings, which provide better traction than straw — and gave her a giant stuffed rhino to snuggle.

Pippa lamb at Farm Sanctuary

Pippa snuggles with her stuffed rhino.

Pippa bonded with her caregivers during bottle feedings — which she often greeted with a hearty tail wag — and during quiet moments resting in the sun. She was patient with every bandage change and treatment and closed her eyes to relish each caress on her face.

But Pippa would need other sheep friends, too: Sheep are flock animals and feel most secure when surrounded by their kind. We continued conversations about where she’d fit best — ultimately deciding on our California sanctuary. It has flatter grounds for Pippa to roam, other sheep with similar healthcare needs, and another needing a tender friend.

Pippa lamb at Farm Sanctuary

Pippa on the mend

Meeting Biscuit

Biscuit, a blind sheep living at our Acton sanctuary, recently lost two of his best friends. Within six months, Otto, then Kelley, passed away from neurological conditions. They had shared an enclosure separate from the main flock — one which Biscuit learned to navigate by memory — but also had opportunities to explore the hillsides with the larger group. However, as Biscuit hasn’t memorized that space as well, he walks in circles nervously when he can’t find his way — quickening his pace and bumping into things when overwhelmed by crowds and unfamiliar terrain.

As Biscuit tends to stay on his home turf, we tried introducing other sheep to him there. Regina provided extra company towards the end of Kelley’s life and in the weeks after her death. But Biscuit didn’t take to her as with his other friends and spent much of his time alone.

Then, Pippa arrived.


can recognize emotion on other sheep's faces.

Life in Acton

At first, Biscuit pushed the little lamb around to assert himself as the dominant sheep. Instead of shying away, Pippa stood her ground. Now, Biscuit’s headbutts are light and gentle. He also stands guard over his new friend when they eat and follows her around the yard when she wants to explore.

Biscuit sheep and Pippa lamb at Farm Sanctuary

Biscuit (left) and Pippa

Some attempts are more successful than others: Pippa still needs to build strength in her hind leg to help her stay upright and mobile. Her new wheelchair helps, and Pippa loves to run now that she has extra support. We plan to increase her time in it each day and hope Pippa will learn to maneuver turns and move around with greater ease.

We also ordered a custom neoprene sleeve like the one Regina, another sheep with three legs, wears for stability. In caring for Regina, we’ve also learned of other treatments, such as regular chiropractic visits, that can help keep Pippa comfortable and healthy as she grows.

Pippa lamb at Farm Sanctuary

Pippa explores her new home.

Through individualized care at Farm Sanctuary, Pippa can have a rich and happy life filled with friendships, fun, and the agency to choose how she’d like to spend each day. Support Pippa by donating to Farm Sanctuary, sharing her story on social media, and reading more about sheep sentience and their right to live free from harm.

Connie sheep at Farm Sanctuary

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