MINT HILL – Town leaders have relaxed rules about owning miniature goats by designating them as household pets rather than livestock.
Prior to the Nov. 9 change, residents couldn’t have goats unless they had at least two acres. The revision allows miniature goats on at least one acre.
The town’s animal control ordinance caps the number of miniature goats at four per acre, which concerned Commissioner Richard “Fig” Newton.
“First of all, I think four goats an acre is ridiculous,” Newton said. “I’ve had goats for over 20 years. I know a lot about goats. I’m not against goats – that’s not what I’m going to tell you – but I am against cruelty to animals.”
Newton explained how not having enough land could lead to parasites, such as Coccidiosis, that cause a goat to starve and die. He said a wet spring or damp early summer makes goats more susceptible to it.
“I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying to save goats,” Newton said. “I’ve had three die in the last seven years.”
Newton was the only commissioner to oppose the change. The mayor and other three commissioners supported it.
“I talked to couple of the commissioners and one of their biggest concerns is that we have a clear definition of what a miniature goat is,” Mayor Ted Biggers said.
The revised ordinance specifically mentions pygmy, Nigerian dwarf and pygora goats as household pets.
David and Shelly Shaeffer initiated the ordinance change after receiving a notice saying they violated the town’s livestock rules. The couple, who live on 1.3 acres off Richmond Road, bought two female pygmy goats for their milk. But Friendly and Fennikin have become part of the Shaeffer family.