CORINTH, Vt. -- A man who tried to care for more than 300 goats and had some of the animials living in his house with him has had the seized animals returned and won permission to move them out of state.
Chris Weathersbee, 64, pleaded guilty last week to animal cruelty and two other charges as part of a plea bargain that also called for the animals' return and removal to eastern Kentucky.
Weathersbee said he has hired a livestock trucking company and plans to leave soon for a farm in Kentucky, where he expects the animals to be used on a vegetation-management project.
He said his Corinth property, where goats are still living in the house and a barn, is under contract to be sold to a local man.
Judge Amy Marie Davenport's approval of the plea bargain in Vermont District Court in Chelsea appears to be drawing to a close the legal chapter in the long-running saga.
For four years, Weathersbee's one-man operation has pitted him against neighbors who complained of the goats escaping into their yards and onto the road.
Tensions surrounding the farm escalated last winter after Central Vermont Humane Society officials and Vermont State Police raided the farm and seized 44 goats that a state veterinarian deemed unhealthy. Those goats, along with kids that were either sent with their mothers or born while in the custody of the humane society, were returned to Weathersbee on Wednesday.
"I was taken aback by the courtesy and kindness with which I was treated," Weathersbee said of the court proceedings.
Aside from the animal cruelty charge, Weathersbee pleaded guilty to one charge of unlawful mischief for the time his goats escaped into a neighbor's yard and ate her blackberry bushes, and one count of disorderly conduct for an incident in which he swatted a school bus and yelled at the driver to move after the bus had stopped for his goats in the road.
Weathersbee was also ordered to pay $20 toward the Central Vermont Humane Society's more than $8,600 cost caring for the goats seized by authorities in February.