A local lamb raised to be auctioned off at the Santa Barbara County Fair has found a new lease on life.
“There’s a possibility that she could have got slaughtered,” said Pioneer Valley FFA student Leslie Torres. “But I didn’t see her as a piece of meat, I see her as my little girl.”
The 17-year-old soon-to-be senior has been raising the lamb called Lilly since April. During that time, Torres developed a deep bond with the animal.
“She’s helped me get out there, stay active and just helped me through the everyday struggles of life,” said Torres. “I didn’t think I would get so attached to her, but I did.”
The emotional attachment caused a bit of dilemma for Torres, who has been volunteering with a local animal advocacy group since she was 11-years-old.
“All the animals there (at the fair) were scheduled to be auctioned off, including Lilly,” said Torres. “I didn’t really want her to die, but I didn’t really have another option.”
However, on the day of the auction, Torres decided to pull her out at the last minute when a home for the lamb was found through the efforts of Gente Bowen, the founder of DogE911, which provides prevention care and disaster preparedness for animal owners.
Bowen was able to secure a home for Lilly with the Satkoski family of rural Arroyo Grande, which has helped rescue several farm animals in the past.
“Lilly is going to live with our other goats Tessie and Lester,” said Erika Satkoski. “She has an enclosed barn and enclosed pen, we have pasture here, which she can graze, so she’s going to be loved.”
According to Bowen, she isn’t surprised Torres made the decision to spare Lilly from the fair auction.
“I’ve seen her over the years working in my program,” said Bowen. “I’ve seen her be very caring and loving towards animals of all types, and wanting to assist and help and being involved.”
Torres said she joined FFA knowing her animal would eventually be auctioned, but was something she never thought about in great detail.
“I guess I didn’t think it would get that far,” said Torres. “We really didn’t talk about it that much. We just talked with our advisors about the experience of raising your own animal and the responsibility with it.”
Torres won a third place ribbon in market during the show with Lilly. She adds she wants to continue on in FFA next year, but is looking to raise a “breeder” animal that will not be auctioned for food purposes.
As for her decision to spare Lilly, she’s very happy with it, and was excited to take her to her new home on Monday.
“I think she’s going to love it,” said Torres. “She’s very skittish, so I think she likes all the calm, and there’s not so many animals around here.”