Petitioning the City of Visalia to Allow Miniature Goats as Pets
So shit’s going down ya’ll. I seriously went from depressed and despairing to furious and determined. Now I’m optimistic and fired up. Someone messed with the wrong girl.
You know my neighbors who wouldn’t let me get my lost kitten that ran into their yard when she got out of our house when I rushed to the hospital in labor? The ones who play loud country music late at night, have loud yappy dogs, and shoot off illegal fireworks every other night? Yeah. Pretty sure they raised a stink about my goats to the city.
It could ONLY have been those neighbors who mouthed off to me and my husband over our kitten, because the neighbors to my left, to my right and even directly behind us love the goats – they pet them, feed them treats and send their kids over to play with them all the time.
Regardless, instead of repeating the same story over and over and over again, I’ll just cut and paste the letter I’ve sent to a Visalia City Council member whom I hope will be sympathetic to my issue. This letter should sum up what’s going on for the most part:
What’s Going On
Dear (City Council Member),
I am writing with a request for information and assistance in repealing the City Ordinance against owning miniature goats within the city limits.
I assumed that like the cities of San Diego and Seattle, Visalia did not count miniature goats as livestock animals but as pets, and I obtained miniature Nigerian Dwarf goats on my city property last year. I recently received a notice in the mail stating that I have ten days to get rid of them or face a $1000 per day fine.
My goats are quiet, clean, contained, leash trained and well behaved.
Miniature goats, which include pygmy and dwarf goats, are no larger than big dogs. The average miniature goat weighs between 35 to 65 pounds. Miniature goats are excellent pets due to their good-natured personalities, friendliness, faithfulness, and hardy constitution.
Female and neutered male goats do not generate significant odors, are not violent, do not wander the neighborhood like cats or generate the noise that dogs can and are far less likely to spread disease than dogs or cats.
My goats are a source of milk, they are great pets, and being fed an organic diet, they generate clean organic compost and fertilizer which we use for gardening. Not unlike chickens, they are a great resource for self-sufficient urban dwellers – and far quieter and cleaner! (I have never once heard my goats from inside my house, while I can hear dogs barking from inside my house up to six houses down the block.)
Many cities in California now allow miniature goats as pets, with no ill effects or problems. With our region’s rich agricultural history and the overwhelming recent support of self-sufficiency through beneficial backyard urban animals such as chickens, there is no reason that the City of Visalia should not adopt a similar Ordinance for miniature goats.
The very same reasons that backyard chickens are a good idea (when responsibly cared for), goes for miniature goats as well.
I understand that there are people out there who would keep goats irresponsibly. To address this issue, I feel that preexisting laws are already in place to address problems such as noise, trespass, animal cruelty, and property damage. (For instance, if someone has a loud goat that is bothering neighbors, those neighbors will be able to address the noisy goats through the existing noise regulations.)
Ultimately, I feel this is simply an issue of fairness. If dogs and cats are allowed, why shouldn’t miniature goats be? Dogs have very sharp teeth and are sometimes aggressive. They also have a tendency to bark loudly. Cats have no concept of property lines and cross them without remorse to attend to their business affairs in neighboring vegetable gardens and sandboxes. Yet despite these indiscretions, we allow dogs and cats. Shouldn’t we allow goats too?
If the City of Visalia, which makes a special provision for racing pigeons (Ordinance 17.32.250) which are known to be notorious disease carriers… Why not miniature goats?
I would like to personally invite you to come meet our goats and see their living space so you can personally assess the situation and get a firsthand look at how simple, easy, humane and clean backyard city goats can be. In compliance with the letter I received from the city, we will be moving our goats to a friend’s house in the country later this week, so please do respond ASAP if you would like to meet our goats Idee and Eos.
For a little bit more about me and my goats: My goats are my pets, my hobby and my two daughters greatest source of nutrition (I use the goat milk – which is gentle on young stomachs and non-allergenic – to make organic baby formula).
I initially obtained my goats to provide milk for my daughters since I cannot produce breast milk, my breast tissue was removed as a teenager. I was born with a congenital abnormality called tuberous breasts hypoplasia. The condition alone affects the ability of women to breastfeed because the milk glands usually do not develop enough to produce breast milk. After finding various (thankfully noncancerous) lumps in my breasts as a teenager, my doctor decided to remove them, and in the process perform reconstructive plastic surgery. I ended up receiving a partial mastectomy, which removed my milk glands and damaged the nerves around my areola – sealing the deal that I would never be able to produce breast milk and breastfeed in the future.
With the cost of goat milk being exceptionally prohibitive, and no organic goat milk options in the Central Valley, I use the goat milk to make baby formula for my 2 month old and 19 month old daughters. This is partially why this issue is dear to me.. it goes beyond a right to own pets.
In conclusion, many cities and counties nationwide and in California in particular, are changing their laws and ordinances regarding discrimination against miniature goats, and adopting a more fair and empowering stance for self-sufficient city dwellers. I encourage you to take a look at this article of how Seattle repealed their prohibition on miniature goats:
I hope to hear from you soon.
What’s Happening Now
I still have not heard back from the City Council member I sent this letter to, but I sent the e-mail over the weekend, and didn’t really expect to get a response till Monday at the earliest.
I plan to speak at the next City Council meeting on May 4th. I’m going to gather as many supporters as possible to come fill City Hall, and will be distributing “I’m Pro-Goat” stickers to them to wear. Afterwards we’ll meet up at my place for a mini goat cheese and wine tasting party.
In the meantime, I have started gathering signatures on a petition to the city to amend their City Ordinance against miniature goats. You can see the petition here:
As of this posting I am up to 262 digital signatures. I’m also collecting physical signatures at our local Farmers Market. We got rained out yesterday, but I managed to get 31 physical signatures in 20 minutes in the pouring rain at the Farmers Market. There are two more Farmers Markets till the 4th of May where I’ll be speaking to the City Council.
When I speak at the City Council I’ll be handing each council member a packet with: Photos of my goats and their living space, a suggested example of the revised and rewritten ordinance, rebuttals to common misconceptions and concerns about goats in the city, some fast facts about the benefits of owning goats, and lastly, signed letters from my neighbors stating that they are not bothered by my goats.
Since this all went down (I got the letter from the city on Friday night, and started moving on civil action yesterday morning), I have been contacted by two different newspapers asking to interview me and come meet the goats and spotlight this activism for legalizing city goats!
The momentum is growing and I am becoming increasingly optimistic we can make this resolution pass. I am going to keep recruiting as many people as I can to sign the petition, and I’m going to get as many people as I can to show up to City Hall to support my addressing the city.
I will keep you folks updated on our progress. In the meantime, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!