On Christmas Eve morning, Rachel couldn’t stand on her right leg. An X-ray revealed that her tibia was badly fractured. The doctor put a cast on it, but she still couldn’t put weight on it. After three days, she saw a specialist. He put it in a pin cast and she was sent home to rest.
Rachel’s medical bills totaled $1,800. She doesn’t have health insurance and could use some help.
Rachel is a 6-month-old, 80 percent Wensleydale ewe lamb. Her owner, Susan Withnell, has set up a GoFundMe page to pay Rachel’s medical expenses. As of Friday night, $500 has been raised toward the $1,800 goal.
“People put all kinds of money into their dogs and cats, and Rachel is like a pet to me,” Withnell said. “With my husband retired and me about to retire, this is a lot of money. I know I would do it for someone else if it came across my plate.”
Withnell, a full-time kindergarten teacher at Linton Springs Elementary School, has a hobby business spinning yarn and weaving items from her own sheep’s wool. She raises bluefaced Leicesters, polypay crosses and high-percentage Wensleydales on 2 acres of leased land in Westminster.
“When you’re creating things out of wool from a sheep that you’ve delivered, raised and sheared, it’s a very special connection,” Withnell said. “I appreciate where it comes from and the process it took to get it there.”
Withnell said she bred a 92 percent Wensleydale ram named Ted with a 70 percent Wensleydale ewe named Sandie because she “very much wanted ewe lambs from them for future breeding and wool.”
In June, Sandie had triplets. The first was stillborn, the second was a ram and the third was Rachel.
“She was just what I wanted,” Withnell said. “Her coloration is considered silver, which is a more rare color. Her fleece is silvery white and has a luster to it.”
But Rachel wasn’t a healthy lamb. In October she received a blood transfusion after becoming ill from a barber pole worm parasite. In November, she was treated for coccidiosis, another parasite. Weak and underweight, she stayed in the basement of neighbor Rachel Adra, her namesake, for two-and-a-half weeks until she was strong enough to return to the pasture.
On Christmas Eve morning, Adra found the lamb’s right back leg dangling.
“We don’t know how she fractured it,” Withnell said. “It’s possible a dog scared her and she ran into the fence line.”
Withnell took the lamb to Link Veterinary Associates and a few days later to Dr. David Levine at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine New Bolton Center in Kennett Square.
Levine put Rachel’s fracture together with wires and then put on a pin cast. As Rachel heals, the pins will be taken out and the cast will be left on.
“I’m so willing to put money into her because she’s sweet, special, and has eyes that look right into you,” Withnell said. “It’s like she knows we’re helping her and she’s going to fight as hard as we are. She has a very strong will to live.”