TRACYTON — The Erwins were looking to tame weeds when they bought two goats for their backyard about 12 years ago.
What they got instead was a neighborhood attraction.
Jack and Jill, as they were known, became a daily stop on Painter Street for school children heading home and even for out-of-towners curious about the rumors of an affable goat couple. Often, Jill would be spotted on the roof of the goats' barn before running to the fence for some apple chunks or bread.
"Jack was always a laid back guy, but she was the goat with a personality," said Sam Erwin. "She was a show-off."
Jack died of cancer a few years ago, but Jill, always the more social of the pair, carried on.
But last week, she was killed in a dog attack.
The dog scaled a fence in the Erwins' yard and attacked Jill on March 1. The Erwins were alerted by a neighbor, and Sam Erwin, who is 93 years old, grabbed a broom and attempted to fend off the dog. But the dog was relentless.
“The dog never let go of that goat,” he said.
Neighbor Shirley Siegel watched in horror from her home as the dog killed the goat.
“It was really traumatic,” she said. “There wasn’t anything we could do.”
A leash was attached to the dog's neck, but no owner was seen. Erwin tied the leash to a log so it could not leave, he said. Erwin contemplated getting a crowbar, but thought better of it. He could see his goat was dead and he was going to risk his own life intervening.
“That dog was somebody’s pet,” he said.
Officers with the Kitsap Humane Society showed up to investigate about an hour after the attack. They took the dog and the remains of the goat.
“Thank God there were no children around,” Erwin said. “I have never seen anything like that.”
The dog is being held on a "mandatory stray hold" at the Kitsap Humane Society, because no owner could be located, according to Humane Society spokeswoman Denise Caruso. Humane society officials will attempt to find an owner but believe the dog to be a dangerous animal, executive director Eric Stevens said, meaning it could be euthanized. A formal process will ensue to determine that, he added. The Erwins informed the officers that they felt the dog should be killed for the safety of other animals and even other humans.
In the meantime, neighboring families and friends have sent the Erwins letters of condolences and posted flowers on the fence where so many got to know Jill. The Erwins have been touched by the outpouring of support but said they will not be able to get more goats.
Sam Erwin admits he never thought he could love a goat. But after the couple purchased Jack and Jill from 4-H at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, they became almost like household pets. And Jack and Jill — so named because they would constantly head “up and down the hill,” Erwin said — soon became a popular stop for walkers along Painter Street.
“She’d get up on that roof and do a jig for anybody,” Shirley Holland-Erwin said of Jill's bucking about on her own home.
Bob Carter, who often picks his 10-year-old grandson, Ian, up from school, said they stopped there every day. Bread or apple bites were Jill’s favorite. She’d enthusiastically run to the fence line.
“Most of the summer, you’d always see someone by the fence,” he said.
The Erwins have put handmade cards from kids around the neighborhood on their coffee table. At times, they become emotional when thinking about their pet goat.
"She was very well loved," Holland-Erwin said. "We’re going to miss her."