Children bond with three-legged goat at limb deficiency clinic
When Bee meets new friends, everyone present benefits.
Bee is a goat who has faced some exceptional challenges. That makes her a great companion for children who receive treatment through the limb deficiency clinic at Shriners Hospital for Children – Greenville. She lives at Whispering Pines Farm in Mauldin with owner Debbie Webster.
“We didn’t know she was malnourished and had a weak bone structure,” Webster said of when Bee came to live at her farm. “She probably had her leg broken. I’m blaming it on probably poor nutrition when she was younger.”
Bee’s leg had healed but she developed a bone infection.
“We worked with her for six months trying to heal her – always on antibiotics, always on pain killer,” Webster said.
Webster had to make a choice: have Bee’s leg amputated or say goodbye to her.
“Everybody here was so attached,” she said. “She had so much will to live. While I was looking at her trying to decide what to do, I was listening to His Radio and they were talking about a girl who had an amputation and a doll was made for her.”
The decision was made. Webster then contacted David Westberry, director of the limb deficiency clinic, and asked if he thought some of his patients would like to see Bee, once she had healed from the amputation.
“He thought it was a great idea,” Webster said.
Westberry said the clinic has been in existence for 60 years. Children he treats have been born with a birth defect or had an amputation resulting from a traumatic injury or as treatment for other conditions.
“It’s more than just providing the medical and surgical care for these patients,” he said. “We try to reach out to these kids in many ways.”
On a very special day recently, Bee made her first appearance as a therapy animal, along with Hope, a lamb who survived being mauled by a dog.
“Any time we can reach out and show they aren’t alone – it gives children the chance to identify with another living creature,” Westberry said.
As part of their treatment at Shriners, providers attempt to treat the entire patient, not just the medical needs associated with a limb. Westberry said his young patients are very resilient.
“Kids are interested in getting back on the playground with their friends and back to school,” he said. “Sometimes, this is all they have known. They are quick to engage.”
And for Bee, whose first appearance at the hospital was just a couple of weeks after surgery, the feeling was mutual.
“You’ve got an animal who has gone through a stressful event,” Westberry said. “The animal might be perceived as being disadvantaged. The therapy might go both ways. The animal might benefit, too.”
You Can Help
To support the therapy animals and other programs at Whispering Pines for children with special needs, visit https://www.gofundme.com/debbiewebster.