EL PASO CO. Colo. - A lamb set to be sacrificed in a Colorado Springs apartment has gotten a second chance at life, while the couple convicted of abusing the animal has been sentenced to probation.
The lamb was discovered in April 2012 inside the room Periz Jackson and Elijah Black were renting in a shared house on Cascade Avenue near Boulder Street in Colorado Springs.
Investigators said the couple planned to sacrifice the lamb for Passover, which isn't illegal, but that the animal was being mistreated, had no water and its hay was covered in excrement.
Property owner Kevin Lofland said another renter tipped him off to a potential pet in the room.
"I'm thinking to myself, what a cat or dog?" recalled Lofland. "He goes, 'No man, I think it's a goat. All of a sudden we hear this, 'Bah!'"
Lofland said he confronted Black and Jackson when they returned home, and that's when he found the lamb on the floor of their room, shackled to a rock.
"(The chain) was wrapped around his neck really tight," said Lofland.
He said he had the couple put the lamb in a storage room, then got in touch with the Humane Society. Jackson and Black were charged with animal cruelty.
"We, for lack of a better term, shopped around quite a bit trying to find a home where (the lamb) would be cared for appropriately," said Joe Stafford, animal law enforcement director with the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
Eventually, Sprinkles was adopted by El Paso County prosecutor Shannon Gerhart and her husband and taken to their ranch out east.
"When we heard about the story and pretty much realized we were one of the few people who could take care of him, we decided to go ahead and do it," said Ray Gerhart.
The Gerharts named the lamb, "Sprinkles," and housed him with their horses.
"Sprinkles best friend is our pink gelding," said Gerhart. "They basically go everywhere together."
Sprinkles and the gelding stuck close together when KRDO visited, and horse seemed to be protective of Sprinkles. When our camera got too close to the lamb, the gelding stuck his nose in the lens.
Those involved in this bizarre case say they couldn't be happier with the outcome.
"I think that's wonderful," said Lofland. "Otherwise, it was going to be lamb stew."
"The payoff for us is to see an animal that was taken out of deplorable conditions and know he's going to be very well cared for," said Stafford.
In addition to one year of probation, Jackson and Black are required to do 50 hours of community service and get counseling. The avoided up to 18 months behind bars.
The Humane Society says while there's nothing illegal about purchasing an animal to slaughter for food or religious reasons, people are not allowed to mistreat that animal while it's still alive and must follow guidelines on killing the animal humanely.