When Jeffery Viar tried to give a petition to the East Ridge City Council on Thursday night asking the council to let him keep his family's pet pygmy goat, a voice in the audience stopped him.
"I'd like to sign it first," a man in the front row said.
"Me, too," a woman echoed.
"Me, too," said another.
"Me, too," added one more person.
The East Ridge City Council recently voted that the goat, Oreo, can't stay at the Viar's East Ridge home. Goats and other livestock aren't allowed within the city limits, and the City Council voted down a proposed exception 3-1 in early October.
At Thursday's meeting, Viar brought his 4-year-old son, Braydon, and 8-year-old daughter, Bailey, before the council to ask members to reconsider.
"If the [council members] are the ones denying him, then they need to be the ones to tell my kids," Viar said.
His children stood quietly behind the microphone while Viar presented the petition, which had about 100 signatures.
"We're here to save a goat -- a pet," he told the council, speaking softly. "My kids cherish him and they've raised him since he was a pup."
The proposed ordinance that the City Council struck down would have allowed most pigmy goats and potbelly pigs to live within the city limits. After Viar's plea, Vice Mayor Larry Sewell asked the council to consider another possible solution: crafting an exception to the existing ordinance that would allow Oreo -- and only Oreo -- to continue to live within East Ridge.
City Attorney John Anderson said he wasn't sure whether such an "amnesty provision" was possible, but promised to check into it and present it to the council at the next meeting in two weeks.
Councilman Jim Bethune said he voted against letting Oreo stay because his next-door neighbors previously had to get rid of their own goat.
"I stood in my driveway and watched their children cry," he said. "It would be hard for me to go back in my driveway tonight and hear them say, 'You let them keep theirs?'"
Still, Bethune said he'd be willing to make an exception solely for the Viar family.
"There are neighborhoods that don't want them," he said. "But it's hard to take a goat away from two small children."
Viar said he was both happy and unhappy with the City Council's response to the position.
"Yes, that they'll take it into consideration and no, that they can't give me a direct answer," he said. "I have to tell my kids that we have to wait another two weeks."
He asked the council to give him a final answer at the next meeting, Nov. 8.
Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...