On Monday, the screams ringing from a barn in Enid, Okla., could be heard from at least a quarter-mile away. It sounded like the desperate cries for help officers Neal Storey and David Sneed said they had responded to throughout their careers in law enforcement, prompting the two to rush toward what they thought could be a person in harm’s way.
But it turns out it wasn’t a “damsel in distress,” as the Enid Police Department put it. In fact, it wasn’t even a person — it was a goat. Though, truth be told, the animal was … quite upset.
“I mean, you could say the goat was crying for help,” Storey told The Washington Post with a laugh. “I think he was just a little jealous that he got moved from his buddy.”
A “little” jealous might be an understatement. The goat, which was standing inside a pen with a dog when the officers arrived, was hellbent on a mission to destroy the date another goat was having with the farm’s only female. He was not taking kindly to being “separated from his friend,” the goats’ owner told the officers, according to body-camera video obtained by The Post.
Despite the initial adrenaline rush and concern, the befuddling situation was a welcome surprise for the officers, who are used to seeing people “on what’s sometimes one of the hardest or worst days of their lives,” Storey said.
“Whenever we respond to somebody crying out for help, we are used to finding a human on the other end of that cry,” he said. “We’re just glad it didn’t turn into something more serious. It’s not very often we get to look back at something like this call and laugh as much, so we’re definitely enjoying that aspect.”
Before there was laughter, though, there was a legitimate concern over the mysterious person’s safety.
On Monday, a resident in the northern outskirts of Enid was curled up with a book on her porch that sunny afternoon. The woman began hearing what sounded like repeated cries of “Help!” It was something “she couldn’t get out of her head,” Storey said — so she called the authorities.
Around 2:45 p.m., Storey arrived at the woman’s home, followed by Sneed. The two immediately heard the cries, but at first couldn’t discern whether it was an animal or a person calling. The officers decided to check it out, following the screams through a tree-lined dirt road. With each step, Storey and Sneed said the voice sounded more eerily human.
“That’s a person. I think that’s a person,” Sneed told Storey before the two broke into a sprint toward a nearby barn, body-cam footage shows.
A faint “heeeeeeeelp” seemed to ring out — sending the officers into a “mind-set of ‘maybe it’s somebody that’s injured inside that barn screaming for help at this point,’” Sneed told The Post.
But when they got closer, the realization hit: The noise was coming from the goat. Close to it, a puzzled farmer watched as two police officers rushed to his barn.
“Your goat sounds like a human yelling for help,” Storey told him in the video — prompting a profuse apology from the owner. Meanwhile, the animal carried on screaming.
Sneed said its owner explained the goat wasn’t used to being separated from its friend, who was trying to mate with his only female goat. After the fuss, “the farmer mentioned he was going to give him some extra food and some treats to calm him down there after we left,” Sneed added.
Maegan Perdue, with the University of Maryland’s agriculture and natural resources college, said it came as no surprise that the officers confused the goat’s bleating for human cries. Goats don’t like being separated — and are pretty vocal about it.
“Goats are herd animals and don’t like to be alone,” Perdue said. “They tend to vocalize a lot when they are separated from the rest of their herd and also at feeding time when they want to be fed.”
The sounds goats make vary by breed and age. In particular, Nubian goats — one of the most popular dairy breeds in the country — have a reputation for “sounding very dramatic,” Perdue said. And the cries of young goats are very similar to human children’s, she added.
Those goat screams have become meme fodder and even made it onto the big screen. Shortly after Taylor Swift released the music video for “I Knew You Were Trouble” in 2012, someone spliced the video with footage of a shrieking goat. Of course, it went viral — to the point that the pop star said “most people” who had seen her music video first saw it with the added-in goat screeches.
“It was a hilarious turn of events,” Swift said while reacting to the clip. “It’s like you just have no idea where things are going to come from out of left field, including, like, you know, screaming goats.”
A decade later, the Swift-goat meme inspired the producers of “Thor: Love and Thunder” to include a set of screaming goats in the 2022 Marvel film.
Sneed said the screaming goat in Oklahoma was yet another opportunity to laugh — and a much-needed one during a news cycle filled with doom and gloom.
“There’s a lot of negative things going on in the world right now,” Sneed said. “To just kind of sit and see that goat situation — you know, it could’ve been a serious thing, but it ended up being an amusing story. It could make someone smile and laugh, and I just wanted to spread a little bit of joy in the world.”