HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Some of the 74 neglected goats rounded up in one of the largest animal cruelty seizures in Connecticut's history are being put up for auction, several months after lawmakers questioned the cost of caring for the growing herd.
The Department of Agriculture on Thursday announced a sealed-bid auction for 13 of them — three adults and 10 others between 7 and 9 months old. Completed bid questionnaires will be accepted until Aug. 10.
"It is our hope that these healthy animals will be returned to a productive environment," said Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky, adding that all 13 goats are suitable to return to agricultural production.
The state seized the 74 goats from the Butterfield Farm Co. in Cornwall, including some pregnant females. The herd, which later grew to 96, was taken to the department's large-animal rehabilitation facility in Niantic, where prison inmates help with care and feeding as part of a special program developed in 2003.
Tests, however, revealed the majority of adults were infected with diseases. At a legislative hearing in April, Reviczky said his agency had exceeded its budget, with much of the cost over-run stemming from the care of rescued animals, including the goats. That prompted some legislators to question why the animals weren't being euthanized.
Ultimately, the agency came up with a dispersal plan. Some of the diseased goats were placed with animal rescue organizations, while others were sold at a livestock auction for a total of $5,750. The state estimated last month it had so far spent about $42,000 to care for the goats.
Twenty-three goats born at the Niantic facility since the seizure will eventually be offered to agricultural schools and organizations like Future Farmers of America and 4-H for youth projects in husbandry and animal science. Any of the young goats not placed with an educational group will be tested for disease when they reach the right age. Those deemed to be disease-free will be offered up for sale in a second auction.
Multiple charges are still pending against the two former owners of the goats.