Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4534
Classification: Kicking/Stomping
Animal: bird (wildlife)
More cases in Bristol County, MA
More cases in MA
Abuse was retaliation against animal’s bad behavior

 Goose and goslings stomped to death
Attleboro, MA (US)
Incident Date:
Sunday, May 8, 2005
County: Bristol

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: John Sanders

A Rhode Island man accused of stomping to death a Canada goose and five goslings said he did it because he felt threatened by the birds.

Sanders, 33, was supposed to be arraigned May 9 in Attleboro District Court on charges of animal cruelty and disorderly conduct. But it was reported that Sanders’ lawyer was not present, and the judge continued the case until later in the month.

Sanders, an industrial engineer from North Kingstown, was working at a Texas Instruments plant in Attleboro over the weekend. According to the police report, he was walking on the campus when an adult goose hissed at Sanders, who slipped and fell in mud.

“Angered by this fall, he began his rampage, chasing the goslings and kicking them,” the report stated.

A witness reported seeing Sanders running across the grass, shouting and stopping to jump up and down. The witness called police, who found two goslings flattened on the parking lot, and three more dead on the grass.

The adult goose, believed to be the goslings’ mother, was taken to an animal hospital in West Bridgewater, where it was euthanized Sunday because its injuries were too severe, said Karen Harvey, Attleboro’s animal control officer.

To contact the prosecutor in this case, urging swift and vigorous prosecution:
Paul F. Walsh, Jr., Esquire
District Attorney
120 North Main Street
Attleboro, MA 02703

Case Updates

The North Kingstown man who gained notoriety for kicking a mother goose and stomping her five goslings to death in front of Texas Instruments last May, has been sentenced.John Sanders, 34, had six counts of cruelty to animals filed without a verdict for one year (provided he stays out of trouble) and one count of disorderly conduct dropped Thursday in Attleboro District Court.Prosecutors had requested a conviction with two years probation.In addition to imposing administrative probation, Judge Daniel O’Shea imposed 200 hours of community service, which can be completed in the defendant’s home state, and a $1,500 fine.Christopher Markey, a prosecutor with the office of Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr., said a litany of good deeds, completed before and after the goose slayings, apparently convinced the judge that Sanders’ murderous outburst was “out of character.”

“The facts themselves, in my opinion, warranted the defendant going to jail, but one of our obligations in this case was to listen to [Sanders’ testimony],” Markey told The Times. “A significant number of court documents [were submitted by the defendant] which showed a history of community service that apparently extended throughout his life. This was independent documentation that seemed to suggest that, in addition to post-arraignment efforts, [Sanders] had prior involvement with community service.”

That service, said Sanders’ defense attorney, former Rhode Island Attorney General James O’Neil, is what convinced the judge that his client was just a good guy having a bad day and not the other way around.

O’Neil said he filed court memoranda detailing Sanders’ good works, including his volunteer work on a mercy ship off the coast of Ghana in the early 1990s and the months he spent living in rural Mississippi, helping Hurricane Katrina victims get back on their feet. According to O’Neil, Sanders had been living in a church and giving freely of himself since last September.

He flew to New England for sentencing and then immediately returned to Mississippi, said O’Neil.

One Katrina victim, whose letter of recommendation was submitted to the court, referred to Sanders as an “Angel from Heaven.”

“I was trying to demonstrate to the court that the conduct he engaged in (last Spring) was aberrant,” O’Neil told The Times.

O’Neil said Sanders had told him that he regretted his actions, but was thankful that he lost his $90,000 a year job and had been given the opportunity to commit himself to volunteer work full-time.

Sanders, who earned an MBA from Columbia University, was working at Texas Instruments when the killings occurred. He was employed by a local staffing agency.

On a Saturday afternoon last May, Attleboro Police received a call that a man was slaughtering a brood of goslings on the grounds of Texas Instruments’ Attleboro facility.

By the time police arrived, a man, later identified as Sanders, had already killed five goslings and critically injured their mother. The mother goose was later euthanized by animal control officers.

Sanders reportedly told police that he had fallen down when the mother goose hissed at him.

Because the bodies of the goslings were scattered across an area “the size of a football field,” police speculated that Sanders had chased the goslings down and crushed them one-by-one.

“[My client] has been profoundly, deeply wounded by his own conduct,” O’Neil explained. “We’ve all had meltdowns, and this goose came at him, causing him to fall in the mud. He got up and retaliated.”

Source: The Pawtucket Times – Jan 21, 2006
Update posted on Jan 24, 2006 – 9:08AM
Sanders’ lawyer says his client deserves leniency because the incident was out of character and is asking that Sanders be placed on pretrial probation or have his case continued without a finding because his behavior was “truly aberrant in nature.”Sanders, 33, of North Kingstown, has no criminal record. He is charged with six counts of animal cruelty for the May incident in Attleboro. He faces a maximum 2-and-a-half years behind bars for each count. Sanders has said he did it because he felt threatened. He has pleaded innocent. He is scheduled back in court September 29th.
Source: WPRI – Aug 30, 2005
Update posted on Aug 30, 2005 – 5:56PM
Sanders, of North Kingstown, R.I., was fired by Olsten Staffing Services on Saturday shortly after officials there learned of what they described as his “ disproportionate response to the hissing incident” earlier that day, spokeswoman Victoria Mitchell said Monday.Sanders had been a product engineer for the temporary employment agency since July 2003, Mitchell said. He had been assigned to Texas Instruments in Attleboro, where the animal cruelty incident occurred Saturday afternoon.”His position was terminated after we discussed this,” Mitchell said.Sanders was arraigned in Attleboro District Court Monday on six counts of cruelty to animals and one count of disorderly conduct. He sat quietly during his appearance before Judge Gregory L. Phillips and was released on $1,000 cash bail. His next court date is May 23.Sanders was mobbed by a throng of reporters outside the courtroom after the hearing but did not respond to questions.

In a police report that explains — in gruesome details — the manner in which the animals were killed, investigating officers said Sanders allegedly started his rampage when he grabbed an adult goose shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday while on the TI campus.

Witnesses told police that Sanders held the animal by its wings and kicked it repeatedly, then chased after the five goslings and stomped them to death.

Sanders allegedly told officers who arrived at the scene that he was upset that the geese hissed at him, and that he had slipped on goose droppings while walking between Buildings 11 and 12 at TI. His rampage allegedly began in the woods between the buildings, and ended in the building 12 parking lot.

Police found the bodies of the five young geese in an area the size of a football field.

Police said the goslings were attacked “ with such force and violence that he forced their internal organs out of their bodies.”

The police report goes into graphic detail about the condition of the goslings’ bodies, concluding that “ one of the goslings killed in the parking lot was squashed almost flat.”

Police said the goslings were chased across a grassy area. Three were killed in the grass and two others in the parking lot. The two goslings killed in the parking lot were found at opposite ends of the lot, the police report said, a distance of about 30 yards.

Animal Control Officer Butch Keefer rescued the mother goose Saturday but the animal had to be euthanized later that night because its injuries were too severe, he said.

“ When I caught her, her left back leg was basically hanging on,” Keefer said Monday.

Keefer said he has handled few animal cruelty incidents since starting his job in October.

“ To hear that a person has just stepped on them just sounds outrageous,” Keefer said. “ The geese hissing and flapping their wings is just their way of protecting themselves.”

Sander’s bail was originally set at $600 but later increased at the request of Assistant District Attorney Matthew Sylvia who said the unusual circumstances of the incident justified the higher bail.

Mitchell, the Olsten Staffing Services spokeswoman, said the animal cruelty case was apparently the first time Sanders faced criminal charges. A criminal background check was conducted before he was hired, she said.

Update posted on May 14, 2005 – 1:54AM
Columbia University graduate and former Texas Instruments consultant John Sanders, 33, answered to six counts of animal cruelty in Attleboro District Court May 9, 2005.The mother goose, who suffered a broken leg and wing, was euthanized after the brazen attack in a Texas Instruments office park Saturday.He literally hunted down and killed the babies. To me, that says this is the type of person that would commit a violent act against a person, stated MSPCA spokesman Scott Giacoppo, a former investigator.
Source: Boston Herald – May 10, 2005
Update posted on May 10, 2005 – 2:11PM


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