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The Goat Lady vs. hay dealers Print E-mail
Written by Administrator-GL   
Tuesday, 11 March 2003
The 'Goat Lady' vs. hay dealers
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July 7, 2002
The Goat Lady vs. hay dealers
Douglas County woman says sheriff, merchants stole pets ; they say she should've paid her bills.

By Eric Eckert
News-Leader


Ava Upon our arrival,we are met at the gate. The Goatlady greets visitors to her Douglas County goat farm with a hesitant smile and a double-barreled shotgun.

The gun is loaded, and two shotgun shells sit snug in the pocket of her tight cut-off denim shorts. The former resident of California and Arizona, who's owned a small farm here the past three years, says she s taking no chances.

I'm scared to death of these people around here, Kaupert says. We're getting outta here as soon as we make sure the goats are moved and safe.

Kaupert known in Douglas County and on the Internet as the Goat Lady had 69 of her estimated 200 animals removed by Sheriff Gary Koop on June 17 to settle an alleged $851 debt to a local hay dealer. Acting on a small claims judgement,Koop supervised the removal of the goats, which were to be sold at auction to pay Kaupert s claimed debt to Harold and Lyndell Lakey.

The Goat Lady used the Internet to tell her story and in 4 hours she raised enough money to pay the debt and reclaim her animals from a livestock auction in Green Forest, Ark. But she's angry that she and her 23-year-old son had to live through the nightmare of watching her babies abusively loaded onto a trailer and hauled away.

She says the Lakeys and the sheriff were acting out scenes from the movies.

I didn t want them goats, he says. I just wanted the money ... All it amounts to is she didn t pay her bill.
That is nonsense , says Kaupert. He wanted my spotted donkeys, He knows my bill is paid in full. When the donkeys were not there, he took the goats. I have never seen such injustice, this is just like Deliverance! And the Sheriff stood by and helped!
A passion for goats

Kaupert s love of goats began more than a decade ago when she and her late husband, Lynn, then living in Arizona, saved four of the animals from a petting zoo that was going out of business.

The owner of the petting zoo told us the goats were going to be barbecued, Kaupert says. So we built a pen and he gave us four of them to keep. We had no idea what was starting.

The Kauperts, along with their son, Matthew, raised goats for several years until Lynn s death in 1995. It was at that point the goats became family.

One particular goat, Georgie, had a childlike relationship with the family, Kaupert says.

He was there for me when my husband died, Kaupert explains. If a goat can be a child, it was Georgie. When he died a couple months ago, I had him cremated and his horns mounted. He was my baby...my life.

While dozens of goats graze and play in the pasture, several are permitted to frolic inside Kaupert s old farmhouse. Two of the animals Baby Girl and Sabrina even sleep in her bed.

Some people sleep with a dog or a cat, she says. I've got a big bed and I sleep with a goat. I m not ashamed. If people don t like it that s too bad.

While many Ava residents contacted for this story had no knowledge of the Goatlady being anything other than upfront , honest and law abiding. She shears the mohair from her goats and sells the fiber to clothing merchants she feels many people in Douglas County constantly judge her.

I love my son, my goats and baseball..I smoke and I cuss and I don't wear a bra, Kaupert says, And I don t take any crap from these hillbillys..But I swear I'm more Christian than those people claim to be.

She's goat crazy , and proud of it.

Rather than looking into her pasture and seeing a herd of goats, Kaupert says she sees a field of individuals and she can give the name and family history of each one.

When you get goat fever , I tell you, you get hooked. They are wonderful animals

Kaupert, who operates the most extensive Web site devoted to taking care of goats on the internet, she loves the animals so much that she plans to have her name officially changed to Goat Lady.

Unpaid debts


Harold and Lyndell Lakey own Lakey and Lakey Inc., in Douglas County.

The father-and-son duo operates one of the largest hay dealerships in the area. And since 1988, they have served several hundred customers, including Kaupert, one of their biggest customers.

Kaupert says she paid the Lakeys in cash in November, but failed to get a receipt to prove the transaction occurred. I had a doe fixin to kid and was in a hurry the day I paid him (Lakey), I did not have time to wait for him to finish loading a semi with hay to get the receipt- I trusted him..that was my big mistake.He Knows I paid him, so does God.

The Lakeys insist that they never received the payment.

I ll let our reputation stand, Lyndell Lakey says. I sold $1 million of hay last year and I ve never had anybody accuse us of being on the sly.

On May 1, the Lakeys filed a petition in Douglas County Small Claims Court against Kaupert for $850 $790 for an unpaid claimed bill and $60 to file the petition.

Judge Roger Wall set a hearing for May 30.

Kaupert failed to appear and the judge ordered a default judgment in favor of the Lakeys for $851. The Goat Lady acknowledges that blowing off the hearing was a mistake.

I didn t have any written proof that the bill was paid, Kaupert says. So I didn t go to court ... Besides, I really did not think they would take it to this extent, it is absolutely ridiculous!

Kaupert had 10 days to file an appeal of the judgment but didn't do so. She also refused to pay the money , so the Lakeys on June 10 petitioned the court to execute payment.

The document reads:

The defendant has a large number of goats, donkeys, etc. (at her home.) We would like to arrange to pick up enough livestock to pay this debt and all costs.

The court granted the request.
I cannot believe the court ordered such a request. No dollar amount given to the animals or number of how many could be seized for payment. No attempt made to seize my bank account which proves it was a personal attack on my animals.
Goats hauled away


On June 17, Sheriff Koop, the Lakeys and Mark Gann a local livestock hauler showed up at the Kaupert farm to take possession of the goats.

Koop says he was told by a livestock dealer the unregistered goats could be sold for $15 to $25 each. That's why he authorized the seizure of 69 goats at $15 each, they would fetch $1,035.
That is a bunch of bull , says Kaupert, I would like to know who they spoke with, they should have contacted a goat owner, NO goat is worth only $15.00.

That amount would've covered the judgment, hauling costs and fees assessed by the sheriff s department, Koop explains.

Kaupert said she was disturbed to learn the judgment didn t state how many animals could be taken.

They just left it up to the Lakeys to take what they wanted, she says.

And her goats would probably average $100 each on the private market, Kaupert contends. She says some people who ve seen her Web site have offered as much as $600 for the offspring of some of her stock.

The number of goats the Lakeys and the sheriff took was not justified, she claims.

They took thousands of dollars worth of goats. They could ve taken eight goats, but they took 69.

Koop says it s department policy to allow the plaintiffs to arrange the hauling and storage of any animals seized in a case like this.

We don t have the capability of taking a herd of goats, the sheriff says, adding that once the goats were sold, any money above and beyond the cost of the judgment and court costs would have been refunded to Kaupert.

Anything that would've been left over after everyone was paid would've gone to her, Koop adds.

Kaupert says she cried, screamed and begged the sheriff not to take the animals.

She told Koop some of the goats weren't hers in an attempt to not have them taken, that she was keeping them for a friend, Wesley Barnett, in Valles Mines, Mo.

Koop says Kaupert offered no reliable proof that the goats were not her property.

(Her son) showed me a handwritten, signed receipt that said some other man owned these goats, but I couldn't do anything with that, he says.

After the goats were taken, Barnett filed an affidavit with the court claiming ownership of the goats. I do indeed own goats that are now in the possession of Harold and Lyndell Lakey. These have been my personal pets since Jan. 3, 2000.

As the goats were being loaded onto the trailer, several escaped and ran out into the pasture.

They were separating mothers from babies, Kaupert says, and they used a cattle prod on some of the little ones, which was totally uncalled for. We re talking little 10 pound goats here.

The Lakeys denied using a cattle prod, but hauler Mark Gann acknowledged that some mother goats were separated from their infant kids while he loaded them on the 168-square-foot trailer.
That trailer was far too small for the number of animals packed into it. explains Kaupert.

Kaupert wanted to know where the goats were being taken and how they would be cared for, the Lakeys said they intended to take the animals to a local auction barn. But the plans changed.

The Lakeys, with the approval of Koop, instead shipped the goats to the North Arkansas Livestock Auction Market in Green Forest, Ark.

We thought she d steal them if the animals remained in Douglas County, Harold Lakey explains. That s why we took them down there ... It s also a better goat market.
Koop allowed these animals to be taken across state lines which is not only out of his jurisdiction but illegal without proper paperwork, it is abduction at this point! Kaupert insists.
He made a BIG mistake doing that.

Internet campaign


Once the goats were loaded and taken from her farm, Kaupert took steps to make sure the animals she loved so dearly weren't sold at auction.

She asked the court to issue a quash order to block the sale.

Judge Wall issued the order. But he told Kaupert that to get the goats back, she now had to pay the Lakeys $1,975 in cash by the following morning (Saturday) at 9 am.

The Goat Lady didn't have the cash readily available to her. So she turned to the only people she could trust a worldwide network of goat enthusiasts, people she had never met personally yet many of whom she had helped over the years with goat related problems. She unraveled the nightmare that you only see in the movies.

Kaupert writes that she was hysterical when the animals were being loaded, explaining that some of the animals were the pets only two weeks old of her son s girlfriend, Trine. Kaupert explains that she jumped into the pen and began handing the some special goats back to Trine.

In the e-mail disseminated to goat lovers worldwide and to regional media the Goat Lady (4' 10" tall weighing approx 110 pounds) claims that the sheriff took my arm behind my back like they do on TV, wrenching my arm tight behind my back and dropped me to my knees while my son stood nearby handcuffed with a deputy holding a gun pointed at him.

Says Koop: I got a hold of her and held her arm. But the sheriff insists that he did not wrench it behind her back. I told her if she didn't calm down, I was going to put her in restraints.

Kaupert's tale and her online request for money had an immediate impact.

I hit the Internet with it and they Western Union-ed the money, she says. These are people I've never laid eyes on.

One woman from the U.S. sent a lump sum of $1,975. Another from Great Britain sent in pound notes that equaled about $30 in U.S. currency. Others sent in smaller donations. But it all added up.

Without them having done that, there would be no goats, Kaupert says. Every person that sent me money said, Don t worry about paying me back. I Will pay them back.

With cash in hand, Kaupert paid the Lakeys and they relinquished control of the goats.

The animals were hers once again but she had to make several 200 mile trips to Arkansas to retrieve them uncrowded in a slightly smaller trailer than that of Gann's.

Leaving the county


For the past week Kaupert's son and his girlfriend have been loading the goats and transporting them to Valles Mines, near St. Louis, where the family plans to settle down until she sells her farm.

But until she's out of Douglas County, the Goat Lady feels she is in danger.

She has closed her Web site and replaced the home page with this message:

Say prayers for my family and the goats. And should anything happen to us, say an unfortunate accident or other means of harm in the near future please contact the proper authorities OUTSIDE of this county ... Living in constant fear as long as we are here in Douglas County.

Sheriff Koop says she s exaggerating. Once the bill was paid, he says, the case was closed.

Mr. Lakey didn t want those goats no more than I did, the sheriff says. There s no reason for this woman to feel she s in danger.
Kaupert answers that remark with this question, Then why did they take them and why am I getting threatening phone calls yet after the fact?

Adds Lyndell Lakey: Why in the world would I harass her? I got my money.

The Lakeys said they have monitored the Internet site and have watched the story told and re-told in cyber space.

That s the first time I've ever had to take someone to small-claims court, Lyndell Lakey adds. I figure nine out of 10 people would've taken action on her before I did.
Kaupert remarks to this statement: There was no reason for any of this to have happened.Lakey is a good ol' boy who wanted the donkeys that I refused to sell.
He told me months ago he would get them one way or the other.
When he came with the sheriff and the donkeys were gone he decided to load goats to get back at me. This is not over.. not by a long shot!

I will spend every effort to see to it that Koop is removed from office and the Lakeys are flipping burgers at Mickey Ds!
This entire ordeal is something you would have seen in a Buford Pusser movie.










goatlady holding Georgie's son- Sonny
Debbie Kaupert, the Goat Lady, holds a baby goat (Sonnie) at her farm outside Ava. Kaupert has about 80 of her 200 goats as pets.
Edmee Rodriguez / News-leader


goatlady and family of goat
She knows each goat by name, they are her family
Edmee Rodriguez / News-leader


Georgie and goatlady
Debbie Kaupert, the Goat Lady, with her beloved late Georgie.
News-leader
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 January 2015 )
 
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