Goat Faces Eviction From Residential Property
April 14, 2008 | By Pet Pulse Staff Reports | 132 comments
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A goat is in the middle of a controversy between its owner and the city officials that have been tasked with determining whether it can be considered a pet.
If they decide it's not an animal companion, the goat named Szokie will no longer be allowed to stay in his owner Gale Warfield’s home.
Last October, Warfield received a notice about Szokie, a goat that lives on her residential property.
The letter explained that because Szokie is a farm animal, he had to go.
Not long after, though, the goat was given a reprieve. Another letter came and explained that while city officials decided if the animal can be considered a pet, he could stay at Warfield’s home.
Current law only allows farm animals on industrial, commercial or agricultural lands -- not residential areas.
Szokie isn’t the only animal that’s faced eviction in recent months. Nine chickens living with a family in Huntingdon, Pa., became the subject of nation-wide debate for the same reason -- the city said the animals weren’t pets.
Their owner, a teenager named Melissa Hensler, went so far as to hire a lawyer in defense of her pets. And although the battle took months to win -- Hensler said she couldn’t imagine life without her chickens -- and her persistence caused many people, including town officials, to reconsider their definition of the word “pet.”
And that’s what Warfield wants too.
The city seemed to be on her side. Last month, an amendment proposed by the city commission would have given farm animals the right to live on residential plots of five acres or more.
But the meeting planned to vote on the issue was cancelled, and the amendment along with it. According to the Associated Press, the committee felt the amendment was unnecessary.
“The committee likes the ordinance as it is,” said Gary Muller, city planning director, during an interview with the Associated Press. “To me a goat is a farm animal.”
As for Szokie in the meantime, he’ll be waiting on bated breath until the city makes a ruling.
“I don’t know what to do from one day to the next,” said Warfield. “I’m at a loss for words on all this.”
If Warfield has any hope, it’s in the precedent set by Hensler and her chickens -- and convincing the city Szokie is a pet. And while Hensler’s case took place in another state, it stands to show that for the dedicated animal lover, changing a town’s perception is possible.
On April 28, Warfield will have a chance to convince the committee her goat should be allowed to stay. And until then, he’ll remain at home.
Warfield said she’d have to find him a nice home should he be evicted.
“He’s not a typical farm animal,” she said. I don’t want him to be sold to a stockyard for slaughter.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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