A runaway goat that sparked a school closure, rammed a car, leaped several fences to evade apprehension and triggered plenty of buzz in the Sykesville area for nearly a week has been captured and is resting comfortably at an animal shelter in Westminster.
Nicky Ratliff, executive director of the Humane Society of Carroll County, said an animal control officer found and subdued the goat — a 100-pound ram with black fur, brown horns and symmetrical white markings on his face — late Thursday afternoon after a resident called in to report a sighting.
The officer, Mike Keiner, found the unnamed animal crouched beneath some steps in a residential area, subdued him with a tranquilizer dart, and brought him to the shelter, where officials are trying to locate its owner, Ratliff said.
The capture brought to an end a caper that began a week ago Saturday, when an Eldersburg resident called the Maryland State Police to report that a goat with no apparent owner was wandering through her neighborhood.
"GOAT HAVING BAAAAAAD DAY!" MSP posted on its Twitter account, setting a comic tone that prevailed in the community as the pursuit unfolded.
Police urged locals to be careful and keep an eye out for the animal, which they reported was on the loose near Route 97 and Bartholow Road.
But the animal, which Ratliff identified as a Spanish goat — a particularly hardy and athletic variety — remained on the move.
Over the next several days, it was spotted in several back yards, in the parking lot of a Catholic church, at a car dealership and at various sites along MD-26 as residents attempted to track its course on the web, posting often comical updates on a variety of Twitter and Facebook pages.
When the goat was spotted near Piney Ridge Elementary School in Eldersburg Wednesday, officials sent out a text alert, canceling students' usual end-of-the-day recess.
"Some of the elementary school teachers aren't from Carroll County," said Ratliff, adding that it wasn't completely unusual for a goat to be out and about in a rural area – though "we did have a kangaroo on the loose a few years ago," she said. "That was different."
Still, Ratliff said, she was mindful the goat's odyssey could have been a serious situation.
Goats can become feisty when they're lost or being chased, she said, and it made sense for officials to take precautions when it came to young children, she said.
Ratliff said she heard a reliable report that the unnamed goat had rammed the front end of a car. And sometime Wednesday, she said, animal control officials had it cornered in an enclosed back yard only to watch helplessly as it leaped the fence and ran away.
"Goats are hard to restrain anyway. They can get out of just about anything," she said.
Animal control officers are looking for the goat's owner. Using its tags, they've determined it comes from somewhere in Texas – not that the ram wandered that far.
It probably came to Maryland through an agriculture department pipeline or by way of a series of auctions, Ratliff said.
The shelter will hold it for two weeks – the customary time period for livestock – then try to find a home for the goat in the area.
Several locals have already volunteered to adopt it.
The animal has its own Facebook page, "Sykesville Goats," complete with updates, photos and a mix of bad jokes about the species.
"What do you call an unemployed goat?" one wrote.
"Baa-roke," another replied.
Anyone interested, Ratliff said, can see an official photo of the animal at the county humane society's website.
"Just go to 'stray animals' and click 'other," she said.