Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The Washington City Council delayed its decision on an unusual city code case after requesting more information from a family seeking permission to keep a goat in city limits at a meeting last week.
“Dogs and cats are allowed in town, livestock is not except by the express permission of (the) council,” Mayor Jaron Rosien said. “This request is for council to consider a special permission for this goat.”
Washington resident Amanda Pickering, who owns the goat, said it was kept much like a dog. While the goat is not officially a support animal, she said it had therapeutic benefits for her son.
“My son has ADHD, and the goat became his companion since it’s been three days old,” Pickering said. “He bottle-fed the goat, she is trained just like a dog … it’s actually helped him want to work, he’s staying out of trouble. We got this for him when he got out of Four Oaks, and it became something he was interested in.”
Pickering said the goat was “smaller than some big dogs,” and lived in a large, tarp-covered dog kennel in the family’s backyard.
“She has a house in there with a pillow and straw,” she said. “We keep really good care of her.”
Council Member Steve Gault said he worried council approval would be a slippery slope for other livestock requests.
“I’m sorry that it’s a support animal, I really am,” he said. “But we’re opening a can of worms that’s never going to be closed if we do this.”
Council Member Elaine Moore said she was concerned that the yard wasn’t fenced in.
“This is a farm animal, and without a fenced in yard, a place where they can safely run, that is a concern for me,” she said. “Farm animals are meant to be able to get out and run, so it’s a concern … I have no problem with it being a support animal, just that a kennel is not an appropriate place for a farm animal.”
Pickering said the goat was often let out without the fence.
“When we go outside, she’s outside, she runs in the yard,” she said. “When she’s outside, she stays in the yard.”
Council Member Illa Earnest said she was open to approving the animal, having seen similar requests during her time as city clerk.
“I think we’re making a big deal out of a goat,” she said. “We have approved a potbellied pig at one time.”
While Pickering said photos and a rough layout of the location had been taken, they were not included in the documents provided to city council members, an omission that prompted the group to table any action.
“It will probably be my recommendation to table this, as we’re missing chunks of information,” Rosien said. “We could have horses and cows that are well taken care of, but we have to somehow navigate (it.)”