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Family's pet pygmy goat must go, says city animal control
A Federal Way family faces an emotional dilemma after neighbors complained about the odor from their pet pygmy goats.
Kelly Anissipour and her 12-year-old daughter, Ava, have raised the two goats since birth and bottle-fed them as babies.
But according to city code, one of the goats must go.
The family was allowed to keep Lilly, a 3-year-old pygmy goat, after a doctor designated the goat as a service/companion animal in 2012.
However, the addition of pygmy goat Juju, now 7 months old, has created a new problem. On July 25, Anissipour received a citation for $100 from the city's animal services unit for the second goat, which has not been documented as a service animal.
Under city code, goats are classified as large domestic animals. The animals require a minimum property size of 70,000 square feet, which is a little less than 2 acres.
Anissipour's single-family property, located in the Brittany Lane neighborhood near Wild Waves Theme Park, measures roughly 6,000 square feet.
The city's animal services unit has received complaints from at least two neighbors. Earlier this month, an animal services officer visited the home and recommended steps to reduce the smell of goat feces and urine.
One neighbor, who declined to give her name, told The Mirror that the noise and odor from Anissipour's backyard has become overwhelming in the past few months, especially in hot weather.
As indoor pets, the family's goats munch on hay and grain from plastic tubs near the kitchen. They roam the house like any normal pet, and their hooves clip-clop on the hardwood floors. The goats love to watch TV and have won ribbons by competing in the "Goat Olympics."
The two goats even go on car rides, whether to a local pet grooming salon or the Starbucks drive-through. The goats are house pets and have never slept outside, Anissipour said.
"They're really good pets, better than dogs," she said, adding that the goats don't smell as bad as her other pets. "We have a Mastiff and a Shih Tzu poodle who stink way more."
In fact, the Mastiff dwarfs the full-size pygmy goat, Lilly, who weighs about 40 pounds.
Anissipour said she may have to board the second goat at a nearby farm. The removal of one or both goats would be devastating to Ava, who bathes and brushes these constant companions.
"She is so attached to them," Anissipour said of her daughter, who suffers from anxiety. "They calm her down. She needs them."
On July 31, the city made a follow-up visit to Anissipour’s home and granted her another week to remove the second goat from the property. If another citation is issued without compliance, the city will begin an abatement process. This may include finding a new home for the goat.
In a meeting Thursday, Mayor Skip Priest advised the Kelly and Ava Anissipour that "he would hold firm on the city ordinance regarding the second goat," said police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock. The family can keep the first goat because of the agreement over its service animal status. Priest also advised the Anissipours on the steps required to change the city ordinance, and invited Ava to speak to the city council on Aug. 6.
"We're not going to confiscate the animal at this point," Schrock told The Mirror. She added that the goal is to reach an agreement with the owner to "re-home" the second goat. "Voluntary compliance is what we all wish for. … It's difficult to have to take enforcement, but sometimes that's the only way to go."
Goats are allowed as pets in some cities, including Seattle. In 2007, the Seattle City Council voted to reclassify pygmy goats as small animals rather than farm animals. In Seattle, goats require pet licenses just like cats and dogs. The goats must be dehorned, and male goats must be neutered.
(Pictured: Ava Anissipour and her pet pygmy goat Lilly in an older photo.)
FYI: Pet goats
• Goats are some of the most intelligent domesticated animals, according to an article by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) veterinarian. The article notes that goats make excellent companion animals, and that it is possible to housebreak and train goats. However, goats are energetic and require a lot of space. "Goats are highly social animals, and easily bored, so it is generally recommended that they be kept with other goats or other farm animals," according to the article. Pygmy goats are the most popular breed for pets, and their small size of 40-50 pounds "makes it more appropriate for owners with very limited acreage, and it retains that 'baby goat' appeal into adulthood."
• According to the website goatworld.com: "Goats are herd animals, which means that they will thrive better with constant companionship of another goat or the pet owner. A goat left alone while the owner is at work all day will not be a happy goat."
• Goats are classified as large domestic animals in Federal Way. Other animals in this classification include horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and "other grazing or foraging animals." According to Federal Way Revised Code 19.260.070, large domestic animals require a minimum property size of 70,000 square feet. City code also imposes a limit of two large domestic animals for this size of a lot.
(Pictured: The Anissipour family's pet pygmy goats Lilly, at right, and Juju).