published Friday, September 14th, 2012

East Ridge delays goat vote

  • photo
    Samantha Viar holds a handful of oatmeal for her 1-year-old goat, Oreo. The animal looks to the container instead at supper time in her backyard in East Ridge, where an ordinance prohibits farm animals within the city limits.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
    enlarge photo

Oreo the pygmy goat can stay in his East Ridge home -- for now.

East Ridge City Council members voted to table a proposed law that would permanently allow Oreo -- and other nontraditional pets -- to live within the city limits.

The members will reconsider the issue at the next City Council meeting. In the meantime, owner Jeffery Viar will be allowed to keep his family's pet goat.

"I'm disappointed that they didn't amend him in," he said. "But I'm grateful for my children that he can at least stay with our family for two more weeks."

The Viar family pet could be butted out of his home under current city law, which bans all goats and swine within the city limits.

The proposed new law carves out an exception for potbelly pigs and pygmy goats -- as long as the animals are within the species' normal weight and height. Owners could register the animals with the city for a $25 fee and keep them legally as pets.

East Ridge animal control supervising officer Jonathan Cooper urged the council to pass the ordinance.

"We strongly support allowing certain nontraditional companion animals," he said. "These animals are biologically goats and swine, but practically they are pets."

Cooper compared pygmy goats to medium-sized dogs, and said the issues that accompany goats -- like a goat getting loose -- also accompany most other species.

"I'm a dog catcher, and I can be a goat catcher, too," he said.

Councilman Jim Bethune questioned the wisdom of changing the law for Oreo when it was not changed in similar previous cases.

"How do I go back to those people and explain why they had to let Snowflake go, but these people get to keep Oreo?" he asked.

Viar said he just wants Oreo to be treated like any other family pet.

"He's just like a dog," he said. "He runs over to the fence when you come home. I can pick him up and he'll lay his head on my chest."

about Shelly Bradbury...

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 ...

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