OKEECHOBEE - For Rick Gorman and Margie Boyles, the animals around their home are like pets.
So when a rescue group approached the couple, asking them to take part in a rescue effort for around 25 to 30 goats, there was no initial hesitation.
Then they got a surprise.
"When the trailer arrived, it was well over 70...a little overwhelming, yes. It wouldn't have been so bad if they were all healthy, but they weren't healthy. Just about every one of them that came off the trailer was sick. It's a fight to get them healthy again...and we're not there yet," said Boyles.
Every goat is displaying moderate to severe symptoms...coughing, diarrhea, mucus and other oozing bodily fluids as well as severe eye problems.
"This is Buddy...Buddy's eyes...and nose...this is how the majority of the goats came here...with runny noses...runny eyes...it's an infection, and it's viral. You have to be very careful when handling him and all the rest of them," Boyles said.
In three weeks the number of goats has dwindled at a steady pace.
"You don't know what you're going to come home to. Besides working a full- time job, you come home hoping that there's nothing down, but unfortunately for quite a few weeks now, it's been one, two, three, and sometimes even four a day," Boyles said.
"A goat has no fight...when they go down...they're down. You have to hand stimulate them...make sure you give them the correct medicine. Once they go down...that's it...it's hard to get them back up," Gorman said.
With over a third of the rescued goats already succumbing to a viral infection, Rick and Margie only hope they find help in time to save the remaining members of the herd.
Donations can be made to Mid Florida Credit Union, account number 518737. Just mention the benefit for rescued goats.