Neighborhood Goats Get a Temporary Reprieve


(Monday, June 23, 2008 5:10 AM EDT)

Carne and Leche have won a reprieve.

Owners of the two goats were ordered to remove them from a Ballston home by county officials, citing a ban on keeping livestock in residential neighborhoods. But the order has been put on hold until Aug. 13, when the matter will be heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

After speaking with County Board Vice Chairman Barbara Favola and the county employee who issued the violation, Bryant Nichols and Matt Haggerty - who rent the property and purchased Carne and Leche to keep as pets, found a temporary way around the rules.

The pair “filed an appeal to get a variance, like you would if you were building an addition,” said Haggerty. “By doing this, we automatically got an extension.”

Although Nichols and Haggerty are glad to have the extension, they are not taking it for granted.

It was “insinuated strongly that we would not win,” Haggerty said, so the two owners are preparing for the worst by pulling together a document with detailed research on goats that they hope will prove goats make good pets. They also plan on meeting with the rest of the County Board members.

“We're going to try and change the law, so we don't need a variance,” Haggerty said. “The main thrust [of our document] will be comparing and contrasting goats with dogs. Preliminary research shows that goat feces is as good, if not better than a dog's, for the environment.”

They also have 1,100 signatures on their petition requesting that the county “exclude does [female goats] and wether [castrated male goats] from the definition of livestock.

The goat story was first reported by the Sun Gazette, and later was picked up by WTTG-TV (Channel 5) and National Public Radio. The owner of the property, and many neighbors, seem to have no concern about the animals staying.

“All the feedback has been positive,” Nichols said. “A guy was even riding his bike down the street [by our house] and yelled out, ‘Save our goats!'”

“It's been a hit with girls we meet in bars,” he added.

As their fate hangs in the balance, Carne and Leche have kept busy trimming the grass in the yard and sightseeing on walks around Arlington with their owners. Carne was a ring bearer at a recent wedding.

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Leche is one of two goats who, for now at least, will be able to stay in a residential neighborhood in Arlington. The Board of Zoning Appeals will hear their case in August.

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