Goat rescuer: A breed apart

July 2010 Posted in Community

Siivi Baker, center, and her daughters Katlyn and Jenelle, assist at Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary.By Brenna Wiegand

Some would say she’s crazy.

After all, how many people would donate their home and acreage to a non-profit organization? … Or pour as much as $200,000 of their salary into saving a ragtag bunch of sick goats?

Dr. Sophie Dojacques would – and has.

When Dojacques – an obstetrics and gynecology doctor and Harvard Medical School graduate – traversed thecountry in September 2004 to join a Silverton practice, she shared her RV with a motley crew of 10 cats whose maladies – missing eyes, bum legs, immune deficiencies – made them unlikely adoption candidates at the “no-kill” shelter where she’d been volunteering.

Now, settled on 22 pastoral acres in the hills above Silverton, Dojacques is positioned to bring to fruition her dream of rescuing ill-treated animals and have them provide therapy for disadvantaged individuals.

Her original vision was to rescue “Premarin horses,” whose urine is collected for the making of hormone replacement drug Premarin (PREgnant MARes’ urINe) for relief of menopausal symptoms.

“Horses involved in Premarin production are tortured,” said Dojacques. “They are never allowed to move and are permanently catheterized. Many that have been rescued are so emotionally traumatized by their life of torture they can’t psychologically recover.”

It’s a drug this OB/GYN will not prescribe, saying there are many options “that don’t involve animal torture.”

But before the horse project could materialize, 46 severely ill, half-wild female Nubian and Boer goats arrived, in desperate need.

“Roicin,” a brown and white Boer weighing one third what she ought, was found lifeless two nights later.

Taking her from the 29 degree night into a heated RTV, Dojacques was seeking a place to bury her when she heard something. She rushed Roicin to emergency care where the doe was given little hope of survival – but after 6 months of round-the-clock care, Dojacques brought her back to the land of the living.

“Roicin begDr. Sophie Dojacques is dedicated to the rescue of abused animals.    an it all,” she said. “That’s why she’s on our logo.”

In April, Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary was granted non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable status. Until now, Dojacques has funded the entire venture.

Silverton Hospital is among organizations that have donated medical supplies that would otherwise be discarded. While working in Silverton with Siivi Baker, a surgical technician, Dojacques found the help needed as she decided to hit the road.

“I went from surgical tech to goat surgeon,” said Baker, who often shows up with her own volunteers, daughters Jenelle, 9, and Katlyn, 10.

Dojacques now works as a locum tenens physician, substituting for doctors at hospitals all over the country, German shepherd and mastiff in tow.

“It pays better; sometimes this place costs me a lot. It also allows me to work eight weeks and come home for two.”

Recent news of a failing well means she will work straight through at her current South Dakota position, meaning she won’t be back until after the New Year. Baker will do likewise to cover the sanctuary work.

“As long as I can fund this I’m happy,” said Dojacques. “I can live on very little. I grew up poor, using free clinics; I’m just giving back what I received. I usually work at non-profit hospitals because I like the values they represent and taking care of people who are like I was: uninsured; scared. If I didn’t need the money, I’d only work in free clinics.”

Dojacques rarely purchases anything by which a charity does not benefit; Internet sites such as care2.com, iGive.com, and redjellyfish.com often facilitate this.

Though hiring is curtailed until the water situation is remedied, volunteers – in general or with specific skills – are always welcome.

The sanctuary’s mission includes supporting other non-profit groups, something Dojacques has practiced in some very personal ways. She earlier sold her home in Kentucky to a friend for what was owed.

“She loved the place and I wasn’t interested in profit,” she said. Her home in Michigan went to Alley Cat Allies, which sold it for a profit of nearly $100,000; and the Wisconsin place is now home to a horse rescue charity.

And now the keys go to Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary.

“Once I handed everything over to the charity I felt so free; I’m going back to my roots of having no money.”
Dojacques tries to make everything she does count so there will be no regrets.

“When the time comes, I want to be able to say, ‘It’s not hard to die when you know you’ve lived.’”

Summer nights, Dojacques often sleeps out with the goats to enjoy their social interaction. They all have distinct names – and personalities. Pointing among an attentive herd, she pegs them as “impish,” “maternal,” “belligerent,” “fractious,” “laid back,” “cuddly,” “lazy,” “gluttonous…”

“I used to wake up not knowing why,” Dojacques said.

Now she does. It’s for Minette, Phineas, Jean-Luc, Flora and the rest. …and those who will benefit from their rescue.

Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary quick facts
Tax deductible donations, inquiries may be sent to Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary, P.O. Box 212, Silverton, OR 97381The scope of Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary is expanding.

• It’s registered in Silver Falls Library’s Read to a Dog program – Goat Division – provided they can be kept from eating the books to which they’re listening.

• It was recently asked to host support group meetings.

• It now has a booth at Silverton Farmers’ Market with organic produce, wool from rescued Angora goats and more.

• It’s presenting to Silverton City Council this month.

• Animal therapy with handicapped, disabled and autistic individuals and children is under way; Nicole, an autistic guest, walked Percival in the Silverton Pet Parade – all by herself. Soon foster kids will be visiting, too.

503-873-9818; www.silvercreekanimalsanctuary.org (website up mid-August)

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