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Quick-thinking kayaker saves free-swimming goat

By Fran Gonzalez | Dec 29, 2020
Courtesy of: Linda Ronan Jerri Holmes steers her kayak in Belfast Bay Dec. 29 in an attempt to "herd" an errant goat to shore, where police wait.

Belfast — A goat, apparently anxious to avoid a visit to the vet, escaped from the vet's parking lot, crossed Route 1, and made its way to the ocean Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Jerri Holmes was making chili in her kitchen on Battery Road around noon that day, when she happened to see three police officers outside her home. "It turns out they were following the escaped goat," she said.

While her husband went to see if he could help, Holmes said, from their deck she spotted the goat swimming away from shore toward Islesboro.

It was not a case of "should I help or could I help," but rather "I hope I can help," she said.

"Yeah," Holmes said proudly, "I saved a goat today."

Holmes quickly got her life jacket, gloves and kayak, paddled out and tried to herd the goat back to shore. Unfortunately, the goat saw people on the beach and did not want to go back.

"I tried tying a rope around its horns, but that didn't work," she said, adding that she had never done anything like this before. In the midst of attempting to tie a rope around the goat, Holmes said, she lost her paddle and had to use her hand doggie-paddle style to retrieve it.

Slowly and persistently, she "pushed" the goat closer to shore until it was near enough for others to help. Police had blankets waiting to wrap the wet animal and keep it warm.

The animal odyssey began when Belfast police received a report that a goat had escaped from its owner in the parking lot of the Belfast Veterinary Hospital.

Sgt. Daniel Fitzpatrick, Cpl. Travis Spencer and Officer Michael McFadden IV responded to sightings near Penobscot Shores retirement home, where residents said they saw a white goat with a green leash in their yard.

According to a Facebook post by Belfast police, the 4-year-old goat led the three officers on a long walk on the beach before educating them on the fact that goats can swim.

Several years ago on the Fourth of July, Holmes noted, one of the cows she tends escaped, and coincidentally, the same police officer who helped her herd her cow off the beach that day was among them.

With the outside temperature at 28 degrees and the water around 40 degrees, Holmes, being cold and wet, went home to change, but not before seeing the goat stand on its own. "It had been in the water half an hour," she said.

It was a comedy, Holmes said, trying to lure the goat up three flights of stairs from the shore with bananas, but fortunately there was a lot of help from neighbors. Holmes said she never met the goat's owner, but wished she had, to follow up on the animal's health.

"It was scary and sad," she said. "The goat never tried to get in the boat." It seemed like it was waiting to be held, Holmes said.

Kayaker Jerri Holmes with other rescuers and the escaped goat she steered back to the shore of Belfast Bay Dec. 29. (Courtesy of: Linda Ronan)
Police get their goat Dec. 29 after the animal escaped from the parking lot of Belfast Veterinary Clinic on Northport Avenue and swam out into Belfast Bay. (Source: Belfast Police Facebook Page)
Jerri Holmes, center, with police and the escaped goat, wrapped in a blanket Dec. 29. (Courtesy of: Linda Ronan)
Rescuers use bananas to lure the goat up three flights of stairs to safety Dec. 29. (Courtesy of: Linda Ronan)
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Comments (1)
Posted by: Carol Rodgers Good | Dec 30, 2020 19:35

Great job, Jerri. Thank you. Brava!

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