Pet goat debate: Council hears pros and cons of girl's case

Ava Anissipour and her pet pygmy goat, Lilly. - Courtesy photo
Ava Anissipour and her pet pygmy goat, Lilly.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Community members had the chance to weigh in on the pet goat debate at the Federal Way City Council's Aug. 6 meeting.

Ava Anissipour, 12, is attempting to get the city to reconsider the ordinance regarding pet goats in an effort to keep a second pygmy goat — named Juju — that she recently brought into her home.

While Anissipour made a strong presentation to the council, Mayor Skip Priest indicated that the law still had to be followed, and that she would have to give up Juju for the time being. The mayor indicated that a deal had been worked out for Juju to go back to the breeder where the goat was purchased, while the city continues to work on the issue.

Anissipour's neighbor, Nancy McClure, stepped up to bat for the young girl, saying her experiences with Anissipour's goats has been nothing but positive. Fellow Federal Way resident Kris O'Neal made the case that goats don't really have a place in the urban/suburban setting of Federal Way.

"I want you to know, her goats have been very good neighbors," McClure said. "They're out on leashes when they go on walks. My dogs have come into contact with them, appropriately, more so than I can say for other animals in the neighborhood."

McClure continued, saying the goats have been model neighbors under Anissipour's ownership.

"There has been no issue that I, or the neighbors that I have spoken with, concerning smell or noise," she said. "My dogs are herding dogs, so I'm sure that, if there was an issue, my dogs would be all over it. My dogs are able to greet the goats and get along quite well."

McClure added that as someone who has shown dogs for 30-plus years, she fully understands Anissipour's need for animal companionship. Along with this, like any pet issue, McClure said it's more about the owners than the animals, and indicated that Anissipour and her family have been exemplary owners.

"I appreciate the fact you're looking at this," she concluded, referencing the fact that the city is examining the current ordinance and what modifications could possibly be made to the ordinance.

O'Neal, who described herself as a "resident, business owner and a community property manager," said that in her extensive time as a property manager in Federal Way, she's typically found the consensus to be against people keeping animals such as goats as household pets.

"During my 15 years as a property manager, I've dealt with a number of livestock issues," she said. "And in every instance, the community has solidly opposed livestock in neighborhoods. Goats are not a pet for suburban areas. In Federal Way, most yards are very close together, and a goat in a neighbor's yard is not what anyone wants to see or smell."

"I request that you don't allow goats or other livestock as pets in Federal Way. You need to look out for the majority of the citizens and not just an individual with a pet," she added.

Anissipour's troubles started when her family added a second pygmy goat, Juju, as a pet. Anissipour was able to get one of her goats, Lilly, designated as a service animal, but Juju is not a service animal.

According to Federal Way city code, goats are considered a large livestock animal, and the property requirements for that classification include having 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.


• To read more about the Anissipour family's fight to keep their pet goat, click here.

• 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.


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