Farm volunteer dies of cardiac arrest after Massachusetts sheep attack

December 7, 2021
Kim Taylor
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BOLTON — A Massachusetts woman who was volunteering at a farm was killed Saturday after a sheep attacked her, police said.

Kim Taylor, 73, a retired nurse, was feeding livestock alone in a pen at Cultivate Care Farms in Bolton, around 27 miles west of Boston, when a sheep repeatedly rammed her, according to a Police Department news release. 

Police and medical workers responded shortly after 9 a.m. and found Taylor suffering from cardiac arrest. Taylor was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

There were no witnesses to the incident, according to the farm. 

Cultivate Farms is a nonprofit farm that focuses on therapy, wellness and community outreach. The organization’s website outlines its approach: “Through physical work and connection with the animals, clients gain insight into their own abilities for positive change within themselves and in relationships with others.”

The farm has a range of animals including goats, sheep, alpacas and rabbits. Goat yoga is among its offerings. Some programs, such as a support group for teens, are headed by case managers.

“Kim was beloved by all who worked with her during the 14 months she volunteered at the farm,” Megan Moran, farm director, said in a statement. “I, along with the Cultivate Care Farms Board and the entire team, wish to express our deepest condolences and our heartfelt love and support to Kim’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”

Cultivate said it was working with investigators to sort out the circumstances of the case. Safety measures are continuously reviewed, the farm said.

Taylor’s family, in a statement distributed by Cultivate Care, said she enjoyed her work at the farm.

“Cultivate continually gave our mother so much joy through her volunteering, and we take solace in that,” Taylor’s family said.

Taylor was a nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. She leaves two daughters and two grandchildren, according to her obituary.

Bolton Animal Control Officer Phyllis Tower is working with Cultivate Farm to determine the fate of the sheep involved in the attack, according to police.

Injuries caused to people working with livestock are not uncommon, according to Dr. Mark J. Ledoux, a large-animal veterinarian based in Massachusetts.

“I probably know of someone killed by every kind of livestock,” Ledoux said. “You have to be careful with all livestock.”

As to why a sheep might suddenly attack, Ledoux said there could be many explanations.

This time of year is the very end of the breeding season which could cause a ram — a male sheep — to act erratically. Such attacks in livestock are more often carried out by males, Ledoux said, though neutering can help deter some aggression.

And when these attacks happen, it’s not necessarily motivated by the animal’s desire to kill a human, he explained. Animals lack the logic to know that their actions could hurt someone and might be acting on their territorial nature or simply their desire to move from one place to another and someone is in the way, Ledoux said.

Part of the problem is that the relationships between people and livestock aren’t always what they should be. 

“People try to make these things into pets,” he said. “We have to be very cautious with animals. It’s not like Walt Disney cartoons.”

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