Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Stray goat finds home in Myakka City

A stray goat that was found wandering the streets of Jacksonville was taken in by the Farmhouse Animal and Nature Sanctuary.

Oats McGoats is adjusting to his new home at the Farmhouse Animal and Nature Sanctuary in Myakka City.
Oats McGoats is adjusting to his new home at the Farmhouse Animal and Nature Sanctuary in Myakka City.
Courtesy image
  • East County
  • Neighbors
  • Share

There’s a new kid on the block at the Farmhouse Animal and Nature Sanctuary. 

His name is Oats McGoats. He’s about 3 feet tall, estimated to be under 2 years old and is a bit of a troublemaker. 

Oats was picked up by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 13. Residents reported seeing the goat running through neighborhoods like a stray dog for several weeks. 

In an attempt to locate his owner, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office added a punny public plea across its social media accounts.  

“The pictured male goat was located in a neighborhood on the city’s westside near the intersection of Collins Road and Settlers Landing Trail South. The animal has not been able to assist in telling us how he goat there,” the posts read.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office tries to locate the goat's owner on social media.
Courtesy image

After two weeks at an impoundment facility, the goat was sent to auction. Oats hadn’t been given a name yet. 

“We did not officially name him,” Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Allyn Kelly said, “But officers commented on his Houdini-like escape skills.”

No one raised a paddle for the goat at the auction, which meant his next stop was the slaughterhouse. Instead, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reached out to a local nonprofit called EPIC Outreach. 

EPIC mainly rescues pigs and horses, but the nonprofit will take in a goat temporarily.  

"We are not set-up to keep goats long-term," Founder Jessie Miller said. "We provide veterinary care and then adopt them out or transfer them to other rescue organizations."

In the two weeks the goat spent at EPIC, he was given a name, vaccinated, castrated and tested for illnesses.

Through the power of Facebook, Oats found a forever home at the Farmhouse after users tagged the sanctuary on EPIC’s post. 

Owner Lisa Burns had no problem giving the goat a home, but she had no way to transport him from Jacksonville to Myakka City. 

Once again, Facebook had Oats covered. Heather D’Agostino saw the sanctuary’s post asking for help. 

Heather, Ben and Emily D'Agostino pick up Oats in Ocala on Feb. 17.
Courtesy image

“Some plans we had canceled for the weekend,” D’Agostino said, ”I thought I can’t just let this goat die because nobody wants him, so I told my kids, ‘We’re going to go help rescue a goat.’”

While she’s down to only a dog now, D’Agostino grew up on a farm in Virginia with a variety of different animals, so transporting a goat wasn’t completely out of her wheelhouse. 

Her children – Ben, 11, and Emily, 17 – were immediately on board. EPIC had a volunteer willing to meet them in the middle, so the D’Agostinos only had to drive two hours from their home in Parrish up to Ocala. 

“(The kids) thought it was super exciting,” D’Agostino said, “And they just thought he was so cute. They feel good about doing things like that.”

The family felt so good that they offered to help the sanctuary with transports in the future.

What’s been discovered about Oats since being dropped off at his forever home on Feb. 17 is that he’s a goats' goat, not a people’s goat.

Burns said he integrated into the herd in an instant, but he has no interest in being petted. The volunteers have tried.

Oats McGoats at the Farmhouse Animal and Nature Sanctuary.
Courtesy image

“He is extremely crazy,” Burns said. “I think he liked being wild and running around the busy streets of Jacksonville and blocking traffic.”

Oats is a mountain goat, so climbing is among his Houdini skill set. While at EPIC, He repeatedly tried to get out of his stall by climbing up boards that were nailed up to 5-feet high. The boards had to be extended to the ceiling to stop him. 

At the sanctuary, Oats' preferred method of escape is crawling under the fence. Burns said he “flattened out like a pancake” and escaped through a 12-inch gap at the bottom. That fence has since been reinforced with metal panels that reach to the ground. 

No one ever claimed Oats, so the reason why will remain a mystery, but he’s fearful of people. Burns said it’s difficult to get close to him, but he’s found a protector in one of the bigger goats.

“If people go in there to clean, (the bigger goat) gets between the people and Oats and doesn’t let anyone try to touch him.” 



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

Latest News