Officials rule out mistreatment after goat dies at North Ga. State Fair

Following the death of a petting zoo goat at the North Georgia State Fair, Cobb County officials have ruled out claims that animals there are being mistreated.

The goat, Oswald, died last weekend at the 87th annual fair after choking on pieces of a balloon discarded near its pen, the fair said Sunday on Facebook. The post generated hundreds of comments alleging animals at the popular attraction are being abused.

Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt said after the goat’s death the police department received reports of “animal maltreatment” at the fair, which has been in Marietta since Sept. 19. The department began an investigation and on Tuesday dispatched an animal cruelty investigator to the fair. The investigator found that the animals “were in good health and the allegations of maltreatment and neglect were not substantiated,” Cavitt said.

Fair representatives have not responded to repeated requests from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for comment on the death. Fair manager Tod Miller responded to an email inquiry Tuesday, but did not provide more detail about the incident. The fair on its Facebook page said the goat and other animals in the fair’s petting barn are pets of “local friends” of the fair. Organizers said each animal is checked over by a veterinarian before they are cleared to be petted by visitors.

“Please help us protect their health and safety by refraining from feeding them anything other than the feed sold inside the barn,” the fair said on Facebook. “We cannot avoid these issues without cooperation from our patrons. Our local friends of the fair love and cherish these animals; please help us keep them safe.”

RELATEDGoat dies after choking on balloon pieces at North Georgia State Fair

By Tuesday afternoon, the fair’s Facebook post on Oswald’s death received more than 1,000 reactions and about 420 comments from posters, some of whom said Oswald looked unwell before his death and that other animals looked “sick.”

“After reading all the comments of personal witnesses, I will not be taking my family to this fair,” one person wrote.

Another person who attended the fair Friday night and there was “plenty of food, water and folks enjoying the animals.”

“[There] could be lots of factors contributing to the death of a farm animal,” the person added. “Worry about something else a little more earth-shattering.”

Julie McPeake, spokeswoman with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, said the state agency does not typically monitor the safety and health of the petting zoo animals. In a case like this, she said her department would only get involved to make sure an animal carcass was disposed of properly, or to ensure any illnesses or diseases were not allowed to spread to other species.

Besides goats, the petting barn features cows, rabbits, llamas and chickens. The exotic zoo includes a 14-foot giraffe, wallaby, zebra, lemur and a camelwhich can be ridden.

The 87th annual fair runs through Sunday, Sept. 29 at Jim Miller Park in Marietta. Fair hours are 4-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 12:30 to 10 p.m. Sundays.

Jim Miller Park is at 2245 Callaway Road SW in Marietta. For more information, visit the North Georgia State Fair website or call (770) 528-8989.

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