After following a Spokane Police Department patrol car for a while Thursday morning, it finally pulled over.
My photographer Gabe and I pulled in behind them. We were there to document Officer Graig Butler and Richie Plunkett’s latest mission. They got out of their car, walked up to ours and spread out some materials across our hood. After going over the game plan, it was time for the mission to begin.
But first, Officers Butler and Plunkett needed to do one more important piece of preparation: They needed to put a diaper on a goat. A goat named “Sushi”.
Despite having kids of their own – human kids, not goat kids – the tasked proved to be a little more challenging than originally anticipated, but through teamwork, trial and error, and ultimately a bigger diaper, they got the goat all set in case it got wet.
“Come on, Sushi,” Officer Butler said as Sushi strutted up the driveway to our target house. “You’re holding me up here, kid.”
So what does a goat in a diaper trotting up a driveway next to a Spokane Police Officer have to do with Thursday’s mission?
I’m glad you asked.
A few years ago, Officer Butler met now 7-year-old Elijah and his brother, Isaiah, at a “Touch a Truck” event. A bond was formed between the officer and youngsters and the three have stayed in touch every since.
“His mom would always write thank you letters for our interactions,” Officer Butler recalled.
The latest “Thank You” letter a few months ago included an odd request from Isaiah to Officer Butler.
“He asked for a goat,” Butler smiled.
I asked Isaiah why he asked a police officer to bring him a goat.
“Because I like goats,” he laughed.
Fair enough. Officer Butler remembers another note written by Isaiah’s mom included on the card.
“The mom was like, ‘Don’t bring us a goat’,” Butler said.
However, it had just so happened that Officer Butler had recently heard of a unique way to make Isaiah’s goat dream come true.
“I had just done a fundraiser for the Wishing Star Foundation where I learned they have another fundraiser where they deliver goats to people in an unsuspecting way,” Butler said.
Butler was of course talking about the non-profit’s “Send a Friend a Goat” campaign, which raises money for the organization to help support children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses and their families. If someone sends you a goat, you can make a donation to the Wishing Star Foundation for the delivery person to take it away, and for $60 you can send the goat to a friend of yours.
Having a specific request for a goat from his young friend, Officer Butler seized the opportunity and brought Sushi to meet Elijah and Isaiah at their home on Thursday.
“I heard you guys wanted a goat, what do you think?” Officer Butler said as the two young kids opened the door.
The answer was instantaneously obvious as both kids smiled from ear-to-ear and let out loud laughs.
“Why is it wearing a diaper?” Elijah immediately asked when the laughter subsided.
“I’ll give you one guess,” Officer Butler replied.
As a member of SPD’s Community Outreach, Officer Butler says a years-long relationship like he has with Elijah and Isaiah is just one of many he’s developed as a mentor in the community. He’s also involved with the Police Activities League Boxing Program.
“I think we all feel special when we get personal attention from anyone. So I try to make each relationship meaningful,” Butler said. “There are times when it might just be a single interaction, but there are young men that I talk to on a weekly basis.”
And on Thursday, there was another connection and for two boys, a day made by two Spokane Police Officers… and a diaper-wearing goat.
After their visit with Elijah and Isaiah, Officers Butler and Plunkett took Sushi to a Spokane Valley fire station where the firefighters promptly, but graciously, decided to send Sushi along to another fire station.
Orders for in-person goat visits through The Wishing Star Foundation are closed for this year’s fundraiser, but you can still schedule a virtual goat visit through Mother’s Day.
However, if you’re not interested in a goat visit but do want to help out, you can find more information on how to donate or volunteer HERE.