Leanne Lauricella is the founder of Goats of Anarchy, a center dedicated to rescuing goats with special needs.
When Leanne saw this little guy she knew she was taking him in. He was a week and a half old, weighed about two pounds, and had a tiny, adorable voice. "He sounds like a mouse speaking. I can't even do that high of a pitch in an imitation of him. It's like the highest little squeak because he's so tiny."
The poor creature was born with malformed legs, which was why its previous owner brought him to Leanne.
That woman had taken him to the vet for a check-up, and after shaving the tiny animal's head the doctor used a scalding iron to burn off the protuberances on top — what would become horns in the future. The owner didn't know enough about goats to realize that this procedure wasn't necessary.
"I was so angry and upset. It's just a sweet little innocent baby. How could they think of doing anything besides kissing that head?" Leanne asked afterwards.
She decided to call him Lawson. "The previous owner told me that they had been very, very insistent and convinced her, but by the time they finished, she was so horrified, she threw up," she recounted.
Disbudding, or dehorning, is actually a common practice of removing a young goat's horns by holding a hot iron on the horn buds for several seconds. It cauterizes the blood vessels that help the horns grow.
Goat meat and dairy farmers often do it to prevent the animals from getting caught in fences, hurting each other (especially when they live in cramped conditions), or attacking the farmers themselves. Leanne finds it cruel and unnecessary.
She explained why: "They scream. A lot of people put them in a box that's made for this, and only their head is sticking out, so they can't move. It's mutilation and it's torture… Goat horns are full of blood vessels, and that's what helps them regulate their body temperature, so that's what helps them stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter."
In addition, the horns grow back, but badly. "Because boy goats have so much testosterone, after about a year, they almost always grow back an inch or half an inch, these little horn scars. Some of them will curl back into the goat's head, and you have to treat them," she continued.
"Disbudding has also been linked to serious medical conditions like meningoencephalitis, which is the swelling of the brain and surrounding tissue."
Leanne had a great idea for what to do while Lawson's hair grows back though. "I started to think, 'He's not going to have any cute baby pictures.' All you're going to see is this terrible mutilation on the top of his head. So I said, 'Ok, I’m going to get him some cute little hats… so we don’t have to focus on that.'"
Since there isn't actually any benefit to the animal from destroying its horns — and there's a real risk of harm, not to mention pain, it's hard to understand how a veterinary professional could agree to do it.
Lawson's hair is growing back and meanwhile, Leanne is looking out for cute hats. This little guy couldn't be more adorable. And he's clearly well taken care of in his new family at Goats of Anarchy. If you want to donate to help little guys like Lawson, Goats of Anarchy can use every dollar!