Refuge turns deadly for goats

Thursday, June 5, 2008
This is one of several dead goats found on Roger McCord's property in Fulton County. Piles of goat carcasses were found in McCord's barn and pasture. Photo Submitted

In the aftermath of community support experienced by most victims of the February tornado, two local farmers are now watching a man they thought was extending a helping hand, head to court to answer for the crimes of animal cruelty and fraud. These farm owners were attempting to seek refuge for their misplaced livestock and Roger McCord of Fulton County claimed he could offer that support.

McCord was arrested for the crime of cruelty to animals and "theft of leased, rented or entrusted personal property" on April 9. McCord is said to be guilty of taking advantage of one Sharp County goat owner's desperate situation of needing a place to board his registered goats.

James Estes and Nancy Long sustained major damage to their goat farm located in Sharp County during the EF4 tornado that hit the area Feb. 5. In an attempt to seek shelter and care for their registered goats while concentrating on rebuilding their farm, Estes and Long accepted what they thought was a favorable situation provided by McCord. McCord advised Estes and Long that he would transport the surviving goats to his 500 acre farm until further arrangements could be made.

The registered herd of goats appear in good health before they were transported to the Roger McCord farm in Fulton County. By the end of February, only 10 goats were left alive on McCord's farm. Photo Submitted

The police report prepared by Fulton County Deputy Rhonda Long said that McCord misrepresented himself to Long and Estes as a part owner of two sale barns in Missouri and claimed that he would be able to provide two heated barns for the goats while they were in his care. Estes and Long released approximately 44 goats to McCord's custody along with supplies of hay, various medication, antibiotics, selenium and an electrolyte replacement. Telephone numbers were provided to McCord as well for any problems or emergencies that might occur, according to Estes and Long.

When Estes and his coworkers arrived at McCord's residence to drop off additional goats that were previously being kept at a separate location, they discovered the rotting corpses of numerous goats.

"The carcasses were left where they fell and/or piled together in a heap. The carcasses were readily available to surviving goats, as well as dogs, chickens, donkeys and sheep," the report read.

Arkansas State Veterinarian Pat Badley said that it is always necessary to properly dispose of animal carcasses.

"To not properly bury carcasses is not hygienic to humans or animals and is just asking for trouble," Badley explained.

The surviving goats had begun to show signs of sickness by way of puss coming from their eyes, noses and around their mouths, according to the report. Estes and Long temporarily left the goats at the residence for fear of spreading the disease that had already claimed a number of the herd.

According to the report, after removing the identifying tags from the remaining goats, McCord illegally transported the goats to an auction in Caulfield, Mo., where they were sold through a consignment sale with Hillbilly Auction.

Although McCord received a check for $2,182.10 in return for the goats, Dustin Cotter, an auctioneer, placed a "stop payment" on the check due to a previous debt owed to him by McCord, according to Cotter.

Estes mailed a letter requesting payment for the goats deceased due to disease and sold at auction by McCord, and when payment was not received a complaint was filed in Fulton County. Estes and Long have documentation proving the worth and bloodline of the goats no longer in their possession.

According to the police report, McCord attempted repeatedly to mislead the investigator of the case about aspects such as the condition of the goats, amount of pasture available, his ownership of sale facilities and his knowledge of any problem concerning the animals and their care.

McCord posted bond on April 9.

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