Latta School Officials Find Goats On FFA Farm Abused

Latta High School officials found several goats on their FFA and agricultural animal husbandry farm last week that had been abused. 
One goat was dead and another seriously injured and is under going treatment and the school is doing everything possible to save it. 
Upon investigation by school officials and the Latta High School Resource Officer, seven teenagers, all of whom were middle school age, were determined to be the culprits and confessed to the abuse. 
The teenagers, all male students at Latta Middle School, were playing at the nearby Town of Latta recreation complex and decided to go to the farm and abuse some of the animals there.
At this point it seems that the teenagers tried to chase the goats to ride some of them, but ended up capturing some and torturing them instead. The teenagers ended up breaking some legs, ribs and other bones by kicking the goats and slamming them into a shelter building on the farm.  One goat had its neck sliced open by the abuse.
The farm has goats, chickens and other animals used in an animal husbandry project for LHS students. 
In the past the approximately 10 acre farm has been used for a community garden, a Christmas tree farm and fruit tree orchard. 
When the state FFA decided to drop its statewide goat raising project about 10 years ago, the Latta FFA stepped up and saw this as a worthwhile project for students to learn in a more hands on way about raising farm animals.
School officials indicated that it has been a wonderful project for LHS students and also serves as a local field trip for younger students to view the animals.  The farm is located directly behind the football stadium.  There has never been any documented incidents of animal abuse since the formation of the farm site in 1970 until this occurrence. 
Because of the seriousness of the incident and the needless torture of helpless animals, school officials determined within Board policy that school related consequences should be administered to all of the students involved as well as filing an incident report with the Sheriff’s office for legal consequences. 
All of the students were suspended from school and have been banned for the rest of the school year from being on any school property or attend any school event outside of the time they should be normally in school. All have also been put on strict probation for any further school incidents for possible expulsion recommendations.
School officials are also diligently supporting law enforcement in pursuing legal consequences for these teenagers’ recklessness in abusing the animals. 
School officials are hopeful that the judicial system will send a strong message with severe consequences for these torturous and senseless acts with at least lengthy community service time at the Dillon County animal shelter or some animal related group, restitution, proper professional evaluation of the teenagers’ behavior and limits on their idle time and places they can be when not in school.
The reaction by students and staff in the schools was disbelief, shock and sadness when they heard of the incident.  School officials took swift and measured action with the culprits and in an effort to ease everyone else’s concerns informed everyone at LMS and LHS about what happened and the consequences administered.  The incident is still under further investigation to determine if any other animals were possibly abused and if more occurrences may have happened previously.

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