Arlington goat rescue director seeks help

ARLINGTON — After 15 years of running an animal rescue, Ellen Felsenthal worries she’ll have to close New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary.

Without expanded space and a round-the-clock manager, the rescue’s founder and director anticipates she’ll close New Moon in the next five years due to her worsening health problems.

She’s raising funds to purchase a 5-acre property adjacent to the farm, which is located on Burn Road in Arlington. She hopes to build a home there for a resident caretaker.

The 45-year-old photography instructor at Everett Community College said she has been dealing with a chronic medical condition that leaves her anemic and weak.

It’s difficult to keep up with her rescue work, Felsenthal said. Though other volunteers can keep the farm running during the day, she said there needs to be someone on hand 24-7 to handle emergencies and care for the goats when volunteers aren’t available. Felsenthal lives on the farm and has been filling that role.

“I physically can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing every day,” she said.

She has 12 resident goats, 32 up for adoption and 13 new arrivals. About 200 animals, mostly goats, come through the rescue each year. The farm sometimes houses sheep, horses, ponies, donkeys or llamas.

New Moon takes in animals that have been seized in animal control cases or given up by owners who can’t care for them anymore. Felsenthal and a crew of about 40 volunteers care for the animals until they can be adopted out.

Chelsea Kauffman, 21, has been volunteering at New Moon for about two years. She helps clean and feed the goats and does odd jobs like hoof trimming. The rescue is “a nice change of pace,” she said, and she enjoys working with the animals and spending time in the countryside.

Beyond the goat pens and barns Kauffman cleans, a grassy hill extends alongside the New Moon property. Those five acres are the farm’s only real shot at longevity, Felsenthal said.

“That’s the problem with being kind of landlocked is that’s really the only undeveloped land we can expand into,” she said. “I really feel that acquiring the land is what’s going to keep the rescue open.”

Tax documents show the rescue’s revenues totaled about $130,000 between 2009 and 2012. Felsenthal estimates she’ll need $250,000 to purchase the next-door acreage, which is for sale. A crowd-funding campaign that kicked off in June brought in about $50,000, she said.

Her next fundraiser is an Open Barn on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but people can donate to New Moon or purchase some baked goods to support the farm, Felsenthal said.

People can also donate online at www.newmoonfarm.org.

Felsenthal started taking in goats in 1999 and opened New Moon Farm four years later.

“My biggest fear is that this place would have to close. That’s the last thing I want,” Felsenthal said. “Goats like Daisy and Galaxy would just get slaughtered. The cute little ones are pretty easy to adopt out, but it’s the old, messed up ones that tug at your heartstrings.”

Daisy is a 2-year-old Saanen goat, with white hair and an undiagnosed bony growth on her jaw, that loves attention, treats and a shady spot to sit. She arrived at New Moon Farm about three weeks ago. She was underweight, full of parasites and diseased, Felsenthal said.

Galaxy, 14, is another goat that came to the rescue in bad shape. She was underweight with hoof rot, worms, lice and sores on her mouth. The sweet-tempered Nubian goat, with long ears and a multi-colored face, was likely bred every year so she would produce milk, Felsenthal said.

“Poor Galaxy,” she said, running her hand along a spine and ribs that jut out from the goat’s otherwise round body. “I can’t believe someone bred a goat that’s this thin.”

Felsenthal never thought she’d be such a goat fan, but she knows each animal’s name, personality and story.

“When I was a kid, I always thought I’d be the crazy cat lady, and now I’m the crazy goat lady.”

Emily Diaz, a Skagit County animal control officer, said she’s worked with New Moon many times, once bringing in more than a hundred goats from a case in Skagit County. Felsenthal has never turned down a goat in need, Diaz said.

“Ellen’s an amazing lady,” she said. “It’s a well-run operation.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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