Attorney General Tong, Department of Agriculture Secure State Custody of Neglected Goats
State Accepting Applications for Adoption of Over 90 Goats(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today announced the state has secured permanent custody of more than 90 neglected and injured goats seized from Redding resident Nancy Burton in March 2021.
The goats will be available for adoption through an application process facilitated by the Department of Agriculture. Parties interested in adopting any of the goats should contact AGR.email@example.com for more information.
“These goats suffered extreme neglect and have been in state custody for well over 500 days. They deserve this chance for permanent, loving homes,” said Attorney General Tong. “State intervention is never our first choice. Resources and assistance are available to animal owners in need, yet was repeatedly refused in this case. I am grateful to our team in the Office of the Attorney General and at the Department of Agriculture who have fought for many, many months to secure this positive resolution.”
Attorney General Tong first sought permanent custody of the goats in March 2021. Superior Court Judge Barbara N. Bellis granted permanent custody to the state in May 2022, and also ordered Nancy Burton to compensate the state for the cost of caring for the goats. Nancy Burton appealed the order and was granted a stay. Judge Bellis lifted that stay on October 18, ruling that Nancy Burton was “unlikely…to prevail on appeal” and that “incurring further unnecessary expenses and expending additional resources, as opposed to a permanent placement for the goats, is not in the public interest.” She further sought to stay the ruling and prevent the adoption of the goals, but was ultimately denied. The matter of state compensation for care of the goats has yet to be resolved.
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture, with the assistance of the Town of Redding and the Redding Police Department, executed a search and seizure warrant last year for the goats located at 147 Cross Highway in Redding. Sixty-five goats seized from the home were evaluated and treated by a veterinarian. The goats have since been in temporary custody of the Department of Agriculture at the "Second Chance" Large Animal Rehabilitation Facility at the York Correctional Facility in Niantic. Many of the goats were pregnant at the time the state took custody and have since given birth. There are now over 90 goats available for adoption.
“As Judge Bellis noted, the state has devoted significant resources to the care and custody of these animals, and they are now able to be adopted out to their permanent homes. We are seeking adopters who can provide the goats with caring homes to ensure their health and well-being,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “Cases like this one require a cooperative effort and we are grateful to all who intervened and responded, including our municipal partners, animal control officers and the Attorney General and his team.”
The Redding Police Department had received more than 120 complaints regarding roaming goats and violations of local ordinances since 2007. During that same period, the Department of Agriculture also received five complaints related to the condition of goats at the property and lack of care. On April 20, 2020, Redding Police investigated a car accident in which one of the goats was roaming in the road and was struck by a car. Nancy Burton was arrested and charged with Animal Cruelty. Her case is ongoing in Danbury Superior Court.
During execution of the search and seizure warrant on March 10, 2021 authorities discovered between 40-50 dead goats in multiple locations of the property in various stages of decomposition in plastic bags, piled underneath a tarp, inside trash containers, and partially buried. One recently deceased goat was found in a shelter, with straw around its hooves and displaced in a semi-circle pattern carved into the ground, indicating that the animal had been struggling for a significant amount of time before expiring. Authorities observed that the goats lacked adequate water. Several struggled to walk and needed medical attention. Some were visibly underweight, with missing or matted fur caked with mud and manure.
Removal of the animals is a last resort after attempting to work with the owner to voluntarily improve the standard of care. Resources and support are available for animal owners facing hardship. Livestock and domestic animal owners are urged to reach out to the Department of Agriculture for assistance at 860-713-2500.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Harding and Matthew Levine, Deputy Associate Attorney General/Chief of the Environment Section are assisting the Attorney General in this matter.