Rescue Story

Helping Hans: Young Goat Flees Slaughter and Finds Sanctuary

Hans goat at Farm Sanctuary

Rescue Story

Helping Hans: Young Goat Flees Slaughter and Finds Sanctuary

Hans was a young goat, wandering the streets on his own—likely after escaping slaughter.

Like the billions of farm animals killed for food each year, Hans did not want to die. Something had lit the fire in his belly, causing him to flee from the life he knew. Maybe he found loved ones on the chopping block. Maybe something felt off and he took that as a sign to bolt.

He was worlds away from the comforts of a warm, clean barn and protection from his herd. But he was alive.

A medical complication lands Hans at Sanctuary

Hans found temporary safety at the Hudson Valley Humane Society. Despite his ordeal, he wasn’t scared of people—staff doted on the little charmer, who snuggled right into their gentle pats and hugs. He seemed to be an easy candidate for placement in a loving home. But then Hans started showing signs of a severe—and potentially recurrent—medical issue.

Veterinarians diagnosed and removed bladder stones, which were blocking his ability to urinate. These may form from a variety of factors (such as diet, low water intake, or genetics). Males are also more prone to blockages than females (early neutering can sometimes be a factor). This condition is very painful—and in the absence of treatment, goats can die from toxicity or other complications. Even after his surgery, he’ll still have an increased risk for future blockages.

For this reason, the Humane Society asked to place Hans with us.


  • Hans arrives at our New York shelter.

  • Hans joins his new herd.

Hans in the snow at Farm Sanctuary

Ongoing, individualized care

Hans will need lifelong, specialized care that may be too complex for private adopters. Our caregiving team knows the signs, like straining to pee, increased vocalization, or kicking at his belly. And we’re within a driving distance to Cornell University, where Hans had his initial surgery. Should he block again, we can get him the help he needs, fast.

Unfortunately, despite extensive preventive care, goats can still block. Often, our only course of action is to monitor at-risk individuals and send them for veterinary treatment as needed. For now, at least, Hans remains in the clear.

Male goats are taken from their mothers shortly after birth and either left to die or raised for meat since they can’t contribute to milk production.

The tricky task of fitting in

With his health now stabilized, Hans could start to make some friends! Goats are herd animals, which means they feel safest—and happiest—among others.

But it’s something they’re denied in animal agriculture. Goats are typically slaughtered for meat between three and five months of age. Those bred for dairy, including Toggenburg goats like Hans, don’t have much longer—especially boys. They’re taken from their mothers shortly after birth and either left to die or raised for meat since they can’t contribute to milk production.

Goats are empathetic and social beings, so these separations—especially from close family and friends—are traumatic. And Hans had lost everyone. We owed it to him to find a group where he could feel at home.

It would take some creative thinking, however, as these groups can be tricky to arrange. Some herds are mellow—others rowdy and rough. Not wanting little Hans to get hurt or feel unsafe, we thought carefully on which herd might suit him best.

We landed on a newer blend of goats from a few pre-established friend groups. Some of them are young like him, and we thought they would make fun playmates! Many share his love for people and attention. (We would not want to place him in a shyer group, where our visits to see him could be stressful for others.)

Still, goats can be territorial—even in more gentle groups. At first, some chased Hans out of the barn during mealtimes. We had to feed him in a separate space so his challengers could see that the new kid posed no threat.

Goats are very social animals who live in herds that are sometimes as large as 100 individuals.

Hans sticks his tongue out while playing at Farm Sanctuary

Hans makes friends and thrives in his new home

In time, however, Hans began to find his place. He’s popular with the younger boys and now eats with them—especially Nemo. Hans also loves people and sprints our way for cuddles, pets, and scratches. Our caregiving team says he’s just the best! Today, Hans can enjoy his best life at Farm Sanctuary.

If you’d like to help, you can make a gift towards his ongoing care––or share his story and learn about others like him! Like Shirley, who got the chance to spend her final days at Sanctuary. Or Taylor and Reiman, who also escaped from slaughter and found peace and companionship with their herd.

These goats, along with the hundreds of other animals living at Farm Sanctuary, have more in common with household pets than many people realize. Like dogs and cats, farm animals have unique personalities and feel emotions like happiness, love, and fear. They like to play and explore. They mourn the loss of their partners. And they’ll fight to keep the lives they love.

Hans is now forever free to pursue whatever that means to him.

Hans relaxes at Farm Sanctuary
Connie sheep at Farm Sanctuary

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