PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Portland’s beloved herd of Belmont Goats was put at risk Monday after someone cut through their fence, allowing them to escape. Owners of the non-profit said whoever did it left a note saying it was intentional and blamed the non-profit for sweeps in the area.
The Belmont Goats is a nonprofit organization that cares for a herd of goats that have resided in various places across Portland throughout the years. Right now, they’re located off North Syracuse Street, near Peninsula Crossing Trail.
The goats’ owners and co-founders of the organization have watched over the goats for 9 years.
At around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, they received a call from one of their transient neighbors letting them know the goats were out.
“The people from the camp were the ones to kind of coax them back in and they were actually found right next to some poisonous plants, so we’ve been watching them all day,” said co-owner of the Belmont Goats Jessica Kurtz.
Someone had cut a panel out of the fence and seven of the goats had escaped. Where the gate had been cut was a letter that accused the Belmont Goats of being responsible for the sweeps taking place nearby.
Kurtz said the Belmont Goats will soon need to move across the street to make room for a new Safe Rest Village on the site they’re at now. The goats are currently on land owned by the Portland Housing Bureau.
The city is planning to sweep the homeless camps from the area the goats are about to move to, but Kurtz said her nonprofit did not encourage the city to move the campers. In fact, she sees their homeless neighbors as the bodyguards that helped save the goats when they got out.
She said some of the people who currently live in the homeless camps might not qualify to live in the new Safe Rest Village.
“Our viewpoint as the Belmont Goats nonprofit, we want to support any solution and we understand that there are no right answers… but we know that they’re investing in Safe Rest Villages, the city, and we want to support that,” she said.
The note Kurtz found claims to be written by a group of anarchists fighting back against the sweeps.
The opening sentence of the letter read: “In what reality is the comfort of five goats valued over the sheltr of more than 15 people?”
Kurtz said she wishes whoever wrote the note knew how the Belmont Goats’ nonprofit works. No one knows what it’s like to be displaced more than them. The nonprofit has bounced around the city in recent years, trying to find a green space that will work to house the small herd and allow the public to visit them.
“We feel the pain because that’s what we do, we move,” Kurtz said.
She said it’s unfortunate the people who did this chose to put the goats at risk rather than reach out to the Belmont Goats owners and have a conversation.
The nonprofit has already repaired the gate and as of Tuesday afternoon, the goats weren’t showing signs of illness after they were found near poisonous plants.
The herd is safe, but Kurtz said the nonprofit is still rattled. All this was especially disturbing after one of their goats died Monday morning. Kurtz doesn’t believe the goat’s death was related to what happened overnight, but said she and others have been grieving and didn’t need the additional stress.
The herd has been together for 10 years and this is the first goat to die. It was buried in Kurtz’s backyard, close to people who loved the goat.