Lake Martin's Goat Island, an Alabama Power property that's become something of a tourist attraction, is being threatened by dog attacks on its goat population.
The open-use island is frequented by Lake Martin boaters for the novelty of its free-roaming goats, which are brought there to graze each summer by several local goat owners including Ricky and Stacie Baker. According to the Bakers' Facebook page, last week a visitor's dog attacked Rosie the goat and chased her into the water, before Rosie was saved by two other boaters from drowning.
"Rosie is OK but is very frazzled and has several dog bite marks on her face and one bite mark on her chest," the Bakers said on Facebook. "All wounds have been cleaned and medicine (has been) put on them. I will not continue to allow them to be harmed.
"These goats bring so much enjoyment to the lake community but you always have the handful that don't care and will ruin it for everyone. We work very hard to keep them safe and healthy. I want to thank the two guys that dove in after Rosie and saved her from drowning after she was (run) into the water by the dog."
On Sunday, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) issued a public statement reiterating the island is open-use and any member of the public may access it. Despite the "Please Keep Dogs Away From Goats" signs, Alabama Power does not restrict visitors from bringing off-leash pets.
"Law enforcement cannot cite or arrest individuals for allowing their dogs on the island," ALEA stated. "We do ask that boaters follow the suggested signs and keep their dogs away from the goats, but we also ask that people refrain from confronting one another in a hostile, verbally or physically threatening manner — because those actions may be illegal and may result in charges against the parties involved."
Ricky and Stacie Baker also followed up with another Facebook post Sunday.
"We’re trying our best to come up with a way to keep (the goats) and everyone else safe because we don’t want this tradition to end, but I don’t know if that is going to be possible," the Bakers wrote. "(We) will not continue to let them be in harm's way. We’re going to try and come up with something in the next day or so, or they will be leaving the island."
The Bakers said Rosie's medication is being covered with money they've raised selling Goat Island T-shirts.