Furlow woman puts the 'love' in 'animal lover'
BY VIRGINIA WIETECHA / STAFF WRITER / NEWS@LONOKEDEMOCRAT.COM
January 10, 2008
Some kids just never grow up.
"As a kid, my Momma would tell you, I brought home every stray I could find," said Sheila Brown of Furlow, who now owns 50 goats, 15 horses, 13 cats, 10 chickens, five dogs, five geese, two pigs, one guinea, one emu, one deer and one skunk.
Brown remembers getting in trouble when she was younger for rescuing spray-painted kittens from a Dumpster and chasing stranded kittens in the middle of a street.
"Momma always managed to find a home for them somewhere," said Brown, "but I never got to keep them."
However, these days, Brown is rescuing and raising Lonoke County animals, tending to them at her Furlow home. When she is not bottle-feeding her pet deer, horseback riding or saving kittens from dump sites, Brown works as a registered nurse.
Sheila Brown holds a baby goat while tending to her many other animals. Brown is a registered nurse who is known to extend her loving heart to rescue animals in need. (photo by VIRGINIA WIETECHA)
"The animals are my stress relief," Brown said. "As an RN, I deal with death and dying everyday, and then I come home to my animals that God sent me. I love each and every one of them."
Brown became the proud owner of her first goat when she was out on a horseback ride one day and noticed her neighbors having a hard time with a mother goat in labor. The neighbors thought the goat was only having two babies, and were ready to pack it up after the second one was born.
"I told them 'It's alive, it's alive,' and I pulled the third baby goat," Brown said. "Since then I've pulled baby goats for several of my neighbors, along with baby cows and baby horses."
She is now known as the neighbor who would go anywhere and do anything for an animal. In fact, on Christmas Day she was busy finding a trailer and helping a stranger with a colicky horse. And recently, she came home to find one of her neighbor's horses snared in a barbed-wire fence.
"I just left a note on their fence that said 'Your horse was stuck in the fence, P.S. please continue to take care of it; I already doctored it.'"
Local veterinarians call Brown when owners decide they don't want their animals. Brown always comes to the rescue.
This makes the Brown farm far from average; mainly because the owner has a heart for special-needs animals. She has two three-legged goats, a mentally retarded goat, blind goat and an overweight pig.
"One of my three-legged goats came from a man who had tied a chain around the goats' leg to keep it in place," Brown said.
Her mentally retarded goat, named Girlfriend, was born late on a cold, rainy night, Brown recalls.
"I could just hear her screaming because she couldn't find her mother," she said.
Brown said it took her five or six days to teach Girlfriend how to nurse.
The blind goat, which she has named Ray Charles, went blind after its previous owner decided to burn its horns off. The goat then developed abscesses on his head and was given strong antibiotics, which caused the goat to lose its sight.
"He came to the farm completely blind, with no blink reflex," said Brown, "but now he blinks and can see shadows."
Brown received Lindsey, the pig, after its previous owners fed it dog food to the point that the pig's belly was raw from rubbing the ground.
"We've about got her back on track, though," Brown said.
Although several veterinarians and farmers have told Brown she needed to euthanize her special-needs animals, she said she won't kill an animal unless she "absolutely has to."
She said when she first bought her horse, Alice, the doctors told her the horse was too wild and needed to be put down.
"When I bought Alice, they told me the ridge on her nose was from her breed," said Brown.
But once she got Alice home, she said the ridge looked like it actually came from someone hitting the horse with a blunt instrument, like a board. In addition, the horse had scars on her back where it looked like she had been beaten with a chain, Brown said, and her tongue was ripped "half and half."
However, after years of gaining Alice's trust, the horse is now a "sweet, loving animal."
Two of Brown's dogs are Hurricane Katrina refugees from New Orleans. In fact, when the disaster hit, Brown, along with an organization called Arkansans for Animals, loaded up several different kinds of animal feed and headed down the back roads to the disaster area.
"I spent three weeks there," Brown said. "We saved a bunch of animals, and returned several to their owners."
Brown said the unclaimed animals were sheltered in trailers at Louisiana State University, and from there dispersed to different shelters.
"We gave 580 dogs who were misplaced by Hurricane Katrina homes in Arkansas," Brown said.
Brown's farm is home to more than 100 animals, each of which has a name and a unique story.
"I can point to each one and tell you all about them," Brown said. "I love the animals ' they're special."