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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Snowball the Man-Killing Goat

Carl Hulsey, a 77-year-old retired poultry worker from Canton, Georgia was determined to turn his white billy goat, Snowball, into a watchdog, whether Snowball wanted to be one or not. To that end, Hulsey took to beating Snowball with a stick to make it more aggressive. "Pa, this goat's going to kill you if you keep that up," Alma Hulsey warned her husband. Little did she know, she turned out to be right.

On 16 May 1991, Hulsey once again approached the goat, brandishing a stick. This time Snowball landed the first blow. The 110-pound goat attacked its tormentor, headbutting Hulsey in the stomach, twice knocking him down. Hulsey scrambled onto the porch in an effort to get away. The goat bounded up the steps after him. While Alma Hulsey watched, Snowball rammed its master over the edge. Hulsey fell to the ground five feet below, and died where he landed. "Blunt trauma to the abdominal cavity," said the coroner. Snowball had ruptured Hulsey's stomach.

As a dangerous animal who might harm another, by rights, Snowball should have been put to sleep. Once the goat's story was known, however, the officials who were to decide Snowball's fate were inundated with pleas to spare the creature. More than 500 protesters from around the nation called Cherokee County animal control after it was announced Snowball might be put to death. Many offered to adopt Snowball.

Some even made death threats. "What happens to the goat, happens to you," one caller reportedly warned. There was also talk of a bomb being planted if the goat did not walk. (aren't they taking this a little too seriously, all for a goat?)

Snowball got let off. It was sent to Noah's Ark, a private animal shelter for neglected, and abused animals in Locust Grove, a little town south of Atlanta. Four hours after its arrival, it was laid on a kitchen table and neutered, an operation intended to make it less aggressive. It was also rechristened "Snow."

Why this furor over a goat and the seeming lack of concern for the man whose life the goat had ended? In the small community Hulsey had been part of, he was well and truly mourned. Yet outside that pocket of acquaintance, sentiment ran the other way - many animal lovers saw a certain divine justice in his fate. He'd brought harm to an animal, and the animal had struck back.



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