GULF SHORES, Ala. — An Alabama woman was arrested Sunday on accusations that she stole a neighbor’s baby goat and painted the animal blue, according to authorities.
Erica Marie Farmer, 34, of Gulf Shores, was charged with cruelty to animals and second-degree theft of property. She was booked into the Baldwin County Jail and released the same day after posting $1,000 bail.
The theft charge is a felony, according to Fox 10 in Mobile.
Sheriff’s deputies told the news station that Farmer is accused of removing the goat from a neighbor’s yard on Saturday and taking it to her uncle’s home, where she was visiting, to show her child. While the animal was in her possession, she decided to paint it blue.
Farmer then posted the photos online.
Authorities said the goat’s owner found it missing and called another neighbor asking if they’d seen it, Fox 10 reported. The neighbor showed the owner the photos on social media.
The owner, identified by the news station as Natasha Harris, called the sheriff’s office.
Farmer told WKRG in Mobile that the incident began as a prank on her cousin, who had recently gotten a new baby goat.
“I thought it was her goat,” she told the news station. “She had posted, her brother had posted four days prior, “New kid,’ and she was holding a goat in her yard.”
She said when she spotted Harris’ goat roaming the neighborhood, she started playing with it and feeding it grapes and cucumbers. She then decided to show the animal to her daughter, who she said is “obsessed with goats.” She then returned it to where she’d found it.
Harris admitted to Fox 10 on Tuesday that her goats are allowed to roam freely around her rural home. She also said the charges stem from a misunderstanding and she wants them dropped.
“I thought kids held down my goat and they was mean to him,” Harris said. “That’s all I could think about.”
She said she was concerned when she came home Saturday night and found the goat missing. When it was back home — but painted — the next morning, she grew angry, thinking teens in the neighborhood had tried to harm it.
Harris said she realized her mistake after seeing news stories about Farmer’s arrest.
She said she reached out to Farmer, who said the dye job was just a prank accomplished with shampoo and food coloring, Fox 10 reported. The two women have since become friends.
“I told her I was sorry, and I’d do anything to help her get the charges off of her,” Harris told the station. “Now I know my goat was just dyed, and there was no harm. He’s fine. He’s running around.”
Now both Harris and Farmer are hoping the Baldwin County district attorney will drop the charges.
“I’m really sorry for wasting your time, and I really hope you’ll see that this was a misunderstanding and drop the case please,” Farmer said in a plea she hoped would fall on authorities’ ears.
District Attorney Bob Wilters told the news station that even if Harris has changed her mind, his office still has to review the case before determining whether or not to prosecute.
Meanwhile, Farmer is not allowed near animals. That includes her own dog, she said.
She told WKRG that the animal cruelty charge is what hurts the most because she loves animals.
“I take full responsibility for everything that I did but I did not hurt that goat. I would never hurt any animal,” Farmer said.