Wonderful news this morning from Seattle: the City Council has reclassified miniature goats as "pets" rather than "livestock." This means that residents can now keep goats within the city limits. There are restrictions, of course, but the big picture is what's important: even urban dwellers can now keep these animals, which are the most environmentally friendly weed-wackers --- and an excellent local source of meat and dairy.
The Seattle Times reports:
As of late, goats have gained the environmental status of hybrid cars and bovine-growth-hormone-free milk, prized for their ability to mow lawns without using fossil fuels. University of Washington and Seattle City Light recently hired herds to clear slopes of blackberry brambles.
Monday's vote marked yet another gain for miniature goats, which are about the size of a large dog. Also known as pygmy or dwarf goats, the animals weigh between 50 and 100 pounds and grow to about 2 feet tall. Owners keep them as pets and sources of milk.
People who want to keep goats will have to license them like a dog or cat and get them dehorned. Male goats must be neutered — the unaltered male gives off a musky scent that some find offensive, goat experts say. To protect sidewalk gardens and park vegetation, goats will not be allowed in off-leash areas or anywhere outside the owner's yard, with an exception: They can be lent to other owners to graze in their yards. Portland and Everett have passed legislation legalizing the goats.
After researching the health risks and finding they were low, Conlin said, he proposed the new law because the goats can provide local milk and serve as "another link to the reality of where food comes from."
Animal lovers, advocates of urban sustainability and children testified in favor of legalizing the goats at the hearing Thursday. One person criticized the change, saying goats can escape any enclosure and they prefer to eat roses.
Grant sees a pastoral future for Seattle populated with minianimals. "We would be a really charming city if we were a place people could keep minifarms with chickens, goats, a vegetable garden and fruit trees," she said.
And get this, at the end of the piece:
Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck said there was more to be done. "Why stop there? Why not sheep, llamas ... ? I think there is an argument that there are greater heights to be achieved with urban sustainability."
I hope Steinbrueck runs for Mayor someday.
And I hope that other city councils around the country are paying attention.