INDEPENDENCE DAY RESCUEOur stomachs were in knots. It was early morning, July 4, 2017, and we were driving to the slaughterhouse. It's a task that never gets easier, no matter how many times we've done it over the years. We brave the heartbreak of what we witness there for the chance to change the lives of as many goats as we can. We arrived at daylight, before the slaughterhouse became packed with customers coming to buy meat animals for the holiday. Two trips later—and the better part of an exhausting and emotional day—and 19 goats were saved from slaughter. Young and old, male and female, our rescues that day covered a wide range of ages and conditions. Emma, emaciated and sick with an udder full of milk, obviously having given birth not long before; Leroy, the most loving and affectionate goat—an old soul in rough shape who, at one time in his life, had clearly been someone's pet; Beckett, terrified and hiding in a corner, head down, confused and defeated; Goose, a months-old adorable little guy who jumped up on the fence of the kill pen, wagging his tail to greet us and give kisses. There was the beautiful young female, so stoic and proud, yet we could tell she was scared behind her brave face. She stood still while we put a leash around her neck, then walked calmly and politely beside us as we led her out of the kill pen. We named her Liberty and she is the namesake of this Independence Day rescue. Once at the rescue, their recovery and rehabilitation begins. A loyal "assembly line" of amazing volunteers awaits their arrival to help us get them checked in and examined. Starving and dehydrated, the goats devour the feed and fresh water we offer. As they regain their physical health, they also start to heal emotionally. This is one of our greatest rewards as rescuers. We watch them decompress with the realization that they are safe. They graze and frolic on green pastures and sleep in comfort, out of the elements. They relax at the gentle touch of a hand on their flank or a scratch under their chin. Their distinct personalities and quirks start to come out. They find their places in the herd. Not long after her arrival on Independence Day, a blood test confirmed what we suspected: One of our rescued goats, Talulah, was pregnant. On September 13th two perfect little baby boys, no more than an hour old, greeted us when we entered the barn that morning. Nineteen goats saved that day had become 21. We named the kids Tug and Bumble. Based on the way Talulah dotes on and nurtures them, we think she is a first-time mom who is as thrilled as we are to have them. Talulah and her kids will know nothing but love as they live out their lives together as a family. Whether it's goats at the slaughterhouse like Talulah or unwanted newborns from dairies and breeders, Puget Sound Goat Rescue saves and rehomes more than 200 goats per year. That's thousands of goats rescued over the 16 years of our existence, along with the occasional sheep, llama, alpaca and pig. In 2017 alone, 116 goat kids have been rescued, some only a few hours old. As a 100 percent volunteer-run and donation-funded rescue, every dollar contributed goes directly to the rescue and care of goats like Emma, Leroy, Talulah and her boys, and Liberty. We are constantly amazed to see mistreated and neglected goats respond to people and trust them again. It is not uncommon to see volunteers sitting in the pastures on a sunny day, surrounded by dozens of goats who just want to be with people. It is a true testament to the kind and forgiving nature of goats. When they are healthy and ready for their next chapter, the goats experience another kind of Independence Day: They are adopted into wonderful homes by loving families. The circle of rescue for them is complete but just beginning for others, because finding forever homes for our rescues opens up space to save that many more. When we meet them, we always wonder where they came from, what their lives were like, or how they ended up at a slaughterhouse. We will never know their stories but we are committed to giving them a future where they are safe, cared for and loved for the rest of their lives.