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Detroit police and animal control officers seized their three pygmy goats and six chickens last month, and the couple does not know where the animals are and fear they could be euthanized.
“She told us she was taking all of our animals,” Sky Brown said of an animal control officer who knocked on her door in Detroit’s Riverdale neighborhood on October 22. “I began to cry.
“They are like our babies,” Brown said of three pygmy goats named Idan, Raichel and Sarai. “I’m so worried about them. They’re probably cold and terrified.”
The last time Brown saw the beloved animals was when she helped an animal control officer put them in crates on the back of a city truck. Brown had little choice but to comply because two Detroit police officers were on the scene watching. Brown is particularly incensed by the way an animal control officer treated her chickens.
“She then followed us back to my house and chased after my poor chickens with a net,” Brown wrote of the animal control officer. “I begged her not to use the net and to let me catch them myself. She refused. She chased them as they squawked in fear.”
What Will City Do With Them?
The livestock were seized under a city ordinance that states animal control is “authorized to sell, transfer, euthanize, or dispose” of unlawful farm animals. Sky Brown says she was told she would never see them again.
Goats and chickens are considered unlawful farm animals unless they are restrained and cared for by trained professionals. Michigan Live reported that the goats were kept in a pen.
There have been conflicting reports about the animals.
Brown told Michigan Live she fears the animals will be euthanized or killed. She also said she was told the animals would be turned over to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for scabies testing. When reporter Gus Burns contacted the USDA, spokespeople said they knew nothing about the goats.
The city finally released a statement Monday (Nov. 3), and it made clear the Browns would not get to keep the livestock again on their own property.
“Although the law is clear that no livestock animals shall be kept or raised on residential property within the city limits, The Detroit Police Department has offered the Brown family, as a means of peaceful closure, a unique opportunity to visit with the animals who will then be taken to a yet-to-be agreed upon location outside the city where they can stay,” the statement said.
Incident Ends Urban Farm Dream
The seizure ended Sky Brown’s dream of urban farming on a property in a rundown Detroit neighborhood she and her husband purchased for $2,000 last year. The couple wanted to turn the property into a self-sustaining urban homestead.
“I’ve always wanted goats since I was a little kid,” Brown said. “And they were attainable here where there are no people.”
She noted that the neighborhood she lives in is largely deserted but very affordable. The Detroit Muckraker blog described Riverdale as plagued by crime, arson and abandoned houses. Dead pit bulls presumably left over from dog fighting are regularly dumped on the neighborhood’s streets.
“There are gun shots every night,” Brown wrote of her neighborhood. “There are meth addicts blowing up houses within blocks of us, and the city of Detroit finds it more relevant to rip screaming pets out of the hands of their devastated owners.”
Brown was particularly upset with Animal Control because they would not simply let her move the animals outside the city limits.
She admits the seizure is partially her fault because she did not check on the legality of owning farm animals in Detroit. Many cities and towns have laws against farm animals on the books, and a lot of those laws define chickens as farm animals.
Brown has created a GoFundMe site to raise money to help get the goats back. Funds raised will be used to help overturn what Brown described as Detroit’s “archaic law against urban farming.” Brown is also receiving pro bono or free legal representation to help her cause.
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