Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16979
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: goat
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Saturday, Oct 2, 2010

County: Alameda

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged

» Wilfredo Felix
» Egon Oyarzun

The herder accused of criminally neglecting dozens of goats in Oakland, 10 of which died, remained in jail and fired from his job Tuesday and will face a preliminary court hearing alongside his former employer next week, officials said.

A herd of about 700 goats belonging to Orinda-based Goats R Us had been contracted to graze untended land at the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, officials said. An anonymous phone call led local animal control officers Oct. 2 to find about 50 to 60 of those goats quarantined nearby, where prosecutors say many of the animals were malnourished and neglected to the point of suffering and death.

Wilfredo Felix, 40, was hired in July as a herder to live at the scene of the grazing and tend to the goats' well-being. He was fired immediately when the goats' condition was discovered, Goats R Us co-owner Terri Oyarzun said Tuesday.

Felix was arrested along with Oyarzun's husband and partner in the business, Egon Oyarzun, 48. Both men face felony charges for failure to provide the animals with necessary sustenance, drink and shelter, said Matt Gaidos, Alameda County deputy district attorney.

Judge Paul Fogel of the Alameda County Superior Court could have reduced the charges to a misdemeanor but chose not to. If convicted, the defendants could face three years of probation or imprisonment, Gaidos said.

The animals "had been separated for special attention: They were weak, old, sick, really young, nursing mothers. Ten were dead and lots of them in poor condition, riddled with parasites, lying in a courtyard with broken glass in it," Gaidos said.

However, "to be fair, about 40 were not in such dire shape," he added. "The vet from the company came out, and we released those back to the farm."

Terri Oyarzun said her company has prided itself on humane treatment of its goats for 20 years, and she was horrified to learn of the neglect.

"Our error in judgment was in relying heavily on our herders," she said, adding that nothing like this had happened to the company before. "We've always had wonderful, wonderful workers."


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