The state of Connecticut is now faced with a serious question about what to do with a herd of nearly 100 rescued goats, including 74 seized from the Butterfield Farm cheese-making operation in Cornwall at the beginning of the year in what has been described as “one of the biggest” actions of its kind in the state. Among the neglected and abused animals were several pregnant females. All are now being cared for by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture at its animal rehabilitation facility in Niantic. Those tending to the goats include prison inmates as part of a rehabilitation program for humans (as well) initiated in 2003.
The problem is now that some legislators question why the state is bothering to spend so much of its time and money caring for the goats, with some, including Red. Melissa Ziobrion (R-East Haddam) even wondering why they were not just euthanized to begin with after learning that the Agricultural Department had exceeded its current fiscal budget by $380,000 due in large part to caring for the herd. In addition to feeding and housing the goats, Dr. Bruce Sherman, a veterinarian and director of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Regulation and Inspection, noted that the animals are currently undergoing testing for 2 diseases. One of these causes abscesses, while the other is a virus that causes arthritis in the animals and “can be contagious to other goats.”
“Farmers make those decisions every day and sometimes these farmers make the decision that that animal has to go to protect the herd,” she stated during a legislative hearing this past week. “At what point does the state, this department, start acting like a farmer and make those decisions?”
State Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky, however, admitted that the decision is not an easy one. Although he, personally, does not have any qualms about raising animals from “pasture to plate,” he also added that it was not just a simple case since the animals had been rescued from inhumane treatment. The owners of Butterfield Farm now face animal cruelty charges and have signed the goats over to state care.
In the meantime, Rep. Bill Aman (R-South Windsor), who has raised goats for nearly 30 years, said that even if the goats are deemed healthy enough to sell off the herd would likely “fetch under $6,000.” He also stated, as a farmer, that under the present circumstances, he would be more than reluctant to bring any of the rescued goats in contact with his own animals.