BELFAST — It turns out, you can use a kayak to herd a goat.

Jerri Holmes was in her kitchen making chili this week when she noticed three police officers outside her home on Battery Road.

“They were following the escaped goat,” Holmes said of the four-legged fugitive that had gotten away from its owner in the parking lot of an animal hospital, crossed Route 1 and made its way along the beach before going into the ocean Tuesday.

While her husband went to see if he could help, Holmes went out onto their deck and spotted the goat swimming away from shore toward Islesboro.

It was not a case of “should I help or could I help,” but rather “I hope I can help,” she said.

Kayaker Jerri Holmes and other rescuers corral the escaped goat and steer it back to the shore of Belfast Bay Dec. 29. Photo courtesy of Linda Ronan

Holmes quickly got her life jacket, gloves and kayak, paddled out and tried to herd the goat back to shore. Unfortunately, the goat saw people on the beach and balked at going back on land.

“I tried tying a rope around its horns, but that didn’t work,” she said, adding that she had never done anything like this before. In the midst of attempting to tie a rope around the goat, Holmes lost her paddle and had to paddle with her hands to retrieve it.

Slowly and persistently, she “pushed” the goat closer to shore until it was near enough for others to help. Police had blankets waiting to wrap the animal and keep it warm.

“Yeah,” Holmes said, “I saved a goat today.”

The caper began when Belfast police received a report that a goat had escaped from its owner in the parking lot of the Belfast Veterinary Hospital.

Sgt. Daniel Fitzpatrick, Cpl. Travis Spencer and Officer Michael McFadden IV responded to sightings near Penobscot Shores retirement home, where residents said they saw a white goat with a green leash on the property.

Police get their goat Dec. 29 after the animal escaped from the parking lot of Belfast Veterinary Clinic on Northport Avenue and swam out into Belfast Bay. Belfast Police Facebook page

According to a Facebook post by Belfast police, the 4-year-old goat led the three officers on a long walk on the beach before demonstrating that goats can swim.

Several years ago on the Fourth of July, Holmes noted, one of the cows she tends escaped, and coincidentally, one of the officers who helped herd her cow off the beach that day was among the officers who helped capture the goat.

With the outside temperature at 28 degrees and the water around 40 degrees, Holmes, being cold and wet, went home to change, but not before seeing the goat stand on its own. “It had been in the water half an hour,” she said.

It was a comedy, Holmes said, trying to lure the goat up three flights of stairs from the shore with bananas, but fortunately there was a lot of help from neighbors. Holmes said she never met the goat’s owner, but wished she had to follow up on the animal’s health.

“It was scary and sad,” she said. “The goat never tried to get in the boat.”

Which was probably a good thing.

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