A California judge ordered two businessmen to stand trial on animal neglect charges after dozens of their brush-clearing goats were found dead or malnourished on the company’s pasture.
The goats were owned by a family operated grazing company called Goats R Us. Their website says, “Our livestock are utilized for fuel mitigation and star thistle eradication,” which basically means the goats are released on commercial property and around private homes in order to eat their way through overgrown vegetation – like lawnmowers.
Egon Oyarzun who owns Goats R Us and a company herder Wilfredo Felix were arrested by Oakland police after animal control officers found 10 dead Pygmy goats in a courtyard of an old naval hospital where the company housed its herd.
The animals ranged in age from older adult goats to babies. All of the goats were in different stages of decomposition, “everything from skeletons to ones that had just recently died,” said Megan Webb, Oakland Animal Services.
Dozens of other goats on the property were malnourished and four goats were sick enough to need immediate veterinary care. The goats included: Angora, Alpine, Spanish, Boer, Pygmy, La Mancha and Nubian breeds.
Their abuse ranged from dehydration, malnourishment, parasites, pneumonia and other diseases.
Webb said in court, “The animals are in real poor condition for one reason or another. We know they weren’t given proper food and water and medical care. It was obvious they needed it and were neglected.”
Egon Oyarzun explained away his responsibility to the animals by telling the judge that he had entrusted the goats to his herders.
Goats R Us has been in existence since 1995. Their website claims the animals are their “buddies” and receive year round veterinary care.
It also declares that special consideration is given to the senior goats in the herd. “Goats R Us has a retirement program for its loyal four footed employees. The goats in our herd are never sold for any reason, and when their ‘golden years’ approach, their scope of work is kept local just outside of our ranch, where they can roam the hills without encumbering the stress of traveling between locations.”
Oyarzun and Felix will be arraigned next week. The trial is sure to uncover why the goats were made to suffer and starve to death and what events occurred in the 15 year-old company that cost the lives of 10 blameless animals.
In my opinion the trial should also serve as a warning about the fine line businesses walk when they take advantage of animals in the name of making a profit.
Creative Commons - Pmarkham