Back in June, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office removed 18 goats from Lattin’s Country Cider Mill and Farm — perhaps the best known farm in the county — after receiving a complaint about the treatment of the goats.
Those goats were later checked by a sheriff’s deputy, who determined they were suffering from hoof rot. The operators of the farm, Carolyn and Debbie Lattin, ultimately were charged with second-degree animal cruelty, a gross misdemeanor. Their case is now being heard in Thurston County District Court.
Meanwhile, the goats were placed in the care of Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County.
Now, Justin Kover, the attorney for the Lattins, has filed a motion in district court, seeking the immediate return of the goats. In his motion, he raises concerns about how the goats currently are being treated.
“The defendants offer proof from a doctor of veterinary medicine that the goats are not just being neglected, but that the young bucklings are the victims of sodomy perpetrated by the grown bucks,” his motion reads. “This is a result of the complete and utter lack of knowledge on basic goat husbandry.”
Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County could not be reached Monday.
Under court order, Kover, his clients, their veterinarian, Dr. Jason Humphrey of Lewis County, and others from the sheriff’s office and Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, gathered Sept. 12 at Thurston County Animal Services so that the goats could be checked.
Once the goats were examined, the veterinarian filed a report, a copy of which was included in Kover’s motion.
Among Humphrey’s findings:
▪ The female doelings are underweight and should be housed separately from the adult females and fed a diet appropriate to young ruminants.
▪ The adult bucks are being allowed to mount and sodomize the young bucklings.
▪ There are lameness issues within the herd that are not being addressed.
In his report, Humphrey also took a shot at the decision to remove the goats from the farm. He said he has been a large animal veterinarian for 16 years and has worked on animal welfare cases with the sheriff’s departments of Lewis, Thurston and Pierce Counties.
“Never has there been a time when animals were confiscated prior to a veterinarian examining the animals,” his report reads. He continues: “I find the confiscation of these animals to be arbitrary and capricious.”
Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tim Rudloff explained the seizure process to The Olympian in June.
They have a deputy on staff who specializes in animal abuse cases and who acts on tips or complaints about alleged animal abuse, Rudloff said. If the deputy determines there’s a problem with the animals, the deputy can ask a judge to issue a search warrant and seize the animals, he said.
The deputy and a veterinarian attached to the investigation also completed reports that were forwarded to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Rudloff said.
Kover has requested an emergency hearing on his motion with the court. If that’s not granted, the motion is set to be heard on Oct. 6.