MINT HILL – A miscommunication between town officials and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department may cause a Mint Hill couple to have to give up their two pygmy goats.
David and Shelly Shaeffer, who live off Richmond Road with their two young children, bought the goats over the summer for milking purposes.
David Shaeffer said his wife has a digestive disease and can only drink goat milk or almond milk, but goat milk is very expensive and hard to find in grocery stores, so they decided to buy their own miniature goats.
He said they took what they thought were the right steps to get the proper permit before buying the goats, but are now finding themselves in hot water with the town.
“It’s really confusing, which is what kind of caused this,” David Shaeffer said.
The couple called the Town of Mint Hill to inquire about a permit and was referred to CMPD’s animal control division, which has a contract with Mint Hill to enforce the county’s animal control laws. The county allows one goat per quarter acre, and since the Shaeffers own 1.3 acres, they were granted a permit from CMPD.
Over the summer, they installed a $1,500 fence in their yard and purchased two female goats – Friendly and Fennekin – for $400 each. Not long after the goats arrived on Aug. 10, the Shaeffers came home to a notice on their door from Mint Hill, stating they had violated the town’s law regarding livestock. According to the ordinance, which dates back to the 1970s, goats are considered livestock, and livestock are only permitted on property of at least two acres.
“They’re right to give us a violation, but the thing is, we got the permit from the county. You’d think that would be enough,” David Shaeffer said. “We talked to all our neighbors and everyone was fine with it. We have eight signatures on a petition. Everybody loves the goats and that’s why this is so silly.”
“When we asked the town what to do, we were told to remove the violation and I’m like, ‘I can’t just remove my pets,’” Shelly Shaeffer said.
The couple spent $250 on a written amendment to the ordinance and is hoping to convince town leaders to allow them to keep their pygmy goats as pets. They claim goats are one of the easiest animals to take care of – they like to graze and love attention from humans; they’re not aggressive or smelly and are fairly quiet.
“They don’t mimic about half the noise of a dog,” David Shaeffer said.
Commissioners held a public hearing on Oct. 12 and are expected to vote Nov. 9. The Shaeffers hope the decision leans in their favor, or they will be forced to give up both of their goats.
“I would be absolutely broken-hearted,” Shelly Shaeffer said.