A 21-year-old woman from St. Paul has pleaded guilty to cruelty in transportation of an animal, after mechanics repairing her car opened her trunk to find a live goat dyed purple and gold with No. 4 shaved in its side.
Janelle D. Riopel pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor on Monday in Winona County and was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation. She'll also pay $280 in fines and surcharges. As part of a plea deal, an additional charge of animal mistreatment was dismissed.
Riopel and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Sonny Yang of La Crosse, Wis., were driving to the Twin Cities the same day the Minnesota Vikings were scheduled to play their first home preseason game with their new quarterback, No. 4 Brett Favre.
They stopped at Tires Plus in Winona to get their car fixed, and that's when Riopel told mechanics about the goat.
While fixing the car, the mechanics heard the goat crying. They then opened the trunk to find the purple-and-gold animal with its feet tied. They called police, and an animal control officer later seized the goat.
Assistant City Attorney Brian Glodosky said it might never be clear what the couple's motive was. Riopel has said they had planned to butcher the goat, and that it was already dyed purple and gold with a shaved No. 4 when they picked it up from a farm. She denied speculation that they planned to take it to the Vikings game.
Glodosky said the motive was irrelevant.
"My concern was the way the animal was being transported. I don't think we'll have a problem with Ms. Riopel transporting an animal in that fashion again," he said.
Yang still faces the same charges Riopel faced. He's scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 26.
Glodosky said while Riopel's plea agreement was typical, he also considered the fact that her name had appeared in news stories all over the country.
"It definitely was embarrassing," he said.
As for the goat, Carlene and Duane Schultz in Eleva, Wis., adopted him and named him after the former Green Bay Packers quarterback. Brett has been a hit with visitors shopping for pumpkins at the Schultz farm, Carlene said.
"Everybody comes and says, 'Where's Brett? Where's Brett,?'" she said, adding that he always beats the other goats to the fence when visitors come to feed them. "Maybe he thinks he's Brett the quarterback or something."
You can still see a tiny bit of purple when the goat's coat shines in the sunlight, but Carlene said she expects that will soon go away.
"He'll eventually just be another goat," she said.