MEXICO, Mo. — How much would you pay for the Mexico goat?
Billy Goat Gruff or Billy the Kid or just plain Billy, as he’s known to the people of Mexico, Mo., will be up for grabs at an auction next Thursday. The proceeds will go to the Mexico/Audrain Animal Shelter.
Three days after Mervin Beechy lassoed Billy, the goat is being housed at the Missouri Livestock Market Center in Mexico. Beechy takes care of him by day and takes him to a secure, undisclosed location at night to keep him away from potential rescuers.
“He doesn’t like me, though,” Beechy said.
Catching Billy, who had evaded authorities since Aug. 21, was a new experience for Beechy.
“People hire me to catch cows and stuff, and I’ve caught sheep and cows before, but this was my first goat," Beechy said. “He can run pretty fast, and he can duck his head pretty fast, too.”
Beechy has mixed feelings about the attention he received after catching Billy. On the plus side, Beechy now has his own Facebook fan page.
On the other hand, keeping Billy safe has become a responsibility. Beechy said he had encountered people who have threatened to set the 4-year-old goat free.
“They want him out, running free," Beechy said. "But what happens when a car goes and bangs into Billy? I thought I was doing the right thing."
There’s no doubt that Billy’s popularity continues to rise. Apart from his Facebook fan page that on Friday afternoon had more than 11,000 fans, there’s a campaign to make him Mexico’s mascot. A banner hanging on the door of Billy’s pen asks people to donate $5 to support the idea.
“A woman came and put that up there. We actually made around $315 in one day,” said Amanda Schrock, Beechy’s wife. The Associated Press identified the woman as businesswoman Nikki Leach.
Those proceeds also go to the Mexico/Audrain Animal Shelter.
One person who isn’t a fan of Billy is Beechy’s 5-year-old son, Isaac.
“He doesn’t like the big goats ‘cause he got rammed in the nose by a billy goat when he was 3,” Schrock said. “He’s only OK with the ones that are his size, the little ones.” Isaac’s little brother, Reuben, has no such fears.
Schrock mused on why Billy has caught the imagination of so many people: “I think with all the bad news going around, people need something like this to talk about.”
Meanwhile, posts continue to appear on Billy's Facebook page. Early Friday afternoon, the post waxed poetic, quoting children's rights activist Marian Wright Edelman: "It's time for greatness — not for greed. It's a time for idealism — not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action."