National News

Bartender jumps into action to rescue drowning goat

Posted June 5, 2018 5:28 p.m. EDT

— A good Samaritan jumped into the river to save a drowning goat near the Jefferson dam.

Mike Soleska told FOX6 News he grew up around goats and was raised on goat's milk. He said when he realized what was happening, he knew he had to do something.

It happened on Friday night, June 1. A goat grazing on a small island fell into the Rock River. Soleska was bar tending at a tavern near the dam when someone burst through the doors.

"'Call 911. One of the goats fell in the river.' It was drowning," said Soleska.

Soon, the goat, named Elsa, was chewing even more scenery as a damsel in distress.

"The water is really high right now. Usually it's a lot lower," said Soleska.

Soleska keeps a canoe in a garage across the street. Without hesitating, he headed for the river.

"When I got out there, she was (struggling a lot)," said Soleska.

As her friends Buddy and Anna watched helplessly from the water's edge, Soleska switched into "hero mode."

"I was against the wall and the water kept pushing me. I had the goat in one hand and I didn't want to squish it," said Soleska.

Cellphone video and pictures taken by the Daily Jefferson County Union show Soleska getting the goat.

The goats are there for a reason -- to naturally help tackle and reduce invasive plant species. It's safe to say Elsa won't "let goat" again as caretakers put up a fence shortly after her dip into the water.

"Then once they got back to shore they were pretty happy again," said Soleska.

Elsa was given a new accessory of her own -- a life jacket, as Soleska has gained a reputation around town as the true "GOAT"-saver of Jefferson.

"The internet got ahold of it and it just kind of snowballed," said Soleska.

Soleska said Monday, June 4 he'd been bombarded with Facebook messages since the incident -- some from friends and family, but most from strangers -- all thanking him for saving Elsa's life.