The city of Visalia, California, has given resident Gingi Freeman an impossible choice: get rid of the miniature goats she relies upon for milk for her babies or pay a $1,000-a-day fine.
Freeman must give up her two pet Nigerian Dwarf goats within 10 days because city officials have declared them livestock.
Freeman needs the goats to feed her two daughters – age 2 months and 19 months — because as a teenager she had her breast tissue removed due to a birth defect. If it was not for the goats, Freeman would have to use infant formula – to which she objects — or drive 50 miles to buy goat’s milk in Fresno, The Visalia Times-Delta reported. She calculated each gallon of milk would cost about $32 when calculating for gas.
“They make for fantastic pets,” Freeman said of the goats. “They actually make far less waste. I have a golden retriever and I have to pick up more after her. Even with two goats it’s not that messy.”
The goats, in fact, are the same size as many dogs city residents have as pets – and more quiet, too.
The problem is that the goats are considered livestock and Visalia ordinances ban the possession of livestock within city limits. Under the ordinances, Freeman will be able to keep her dog even though she has to get rid of the goats.
No Milk for the Babies
Freeman, a mother of two, has raised goats since she was a girl. The miniature goats presented a solution to a very unique problem she faces.
“I can’t produce breast milk,” she said. “My only options were to use formula or get breast milk from donors. There have been a couple times where we ran out of breast milk donations.”
Freeman does not want to use prepackaged baby formulas because they conflict with her organic beliefs. There is no locally sold organic goat milk. So she makes her own organic baby formula from goat milk for her daughters to augment the donations. Goat milk is gentle on stomachs.
“We don’t like the antibiotics found in regular goat milk,” Freeman said.
Someone Reported Them
Ironically enough, Freeman and her husband kept the goats for some time until a neighbor reported them to the city. She received a letter from the city in late April telling her to get rid of the milk goats she calls Eos and Idee or face the fine.
“This is partially why this issue is dear to me … it goes beyond a right to own pets,” Freeman said.
Freeman is fighting back against what she thinks is an unfair ordinance, and has gathered around 300 signatures to take to the Visalia City Council. Her hope is that the council will overturn or amend the ordinance. Visalia residents that want to support Freeman can sign the petition and learn more at her blog.
Some big cities such as San Diego and Seattle already allow goats, the petition says.
“Miniature goats, which include pygmy and dwarf goats, are no larger than big dogs,” the petition says. “The average mini-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 do, and are no more likely to spread disease than dogs or cats.”
Many other municipalities in the United States and Canada have laws banning or restricting the ownership of livestock. Under most of those ordinances, chickens, goats and pigs are considered livestock.
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