EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — A vote by the East Ridge City Council got the Viar family’s goat.
On a 3-1 vote with no discussion, the council on Thursday killed a proposal that would have made exceptions for pigmy goats and pot-bellied pigs in the city ordinance that bans farm animals.
Jeffrey Viar told the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/Qp6C4R) his family would pack up their pigmy goat named Oreo and move.
East Ridge Animal Control Supervising Officer Jonathan Cooper urged the council to pass the exception. He argued the 40-pound black and white goat isn’t much different from medium-sized dogs.
Viar said he has been looking for the past few weeks and hopes to move just across the Georgia border so he can stay close to his mother and brother in East Ridge.
The newest mover and shaker in East Ridge politics likes to eat shrubbery, weighs 40 pounds and goes by the name Oreo, according to the Chattanooga TFP. The 1-year-old, black-and-white-haired pygmy goat scampered into the spotlight last week, when his owner Jeff Viar came before the East Ridge City Council and pleaded with the city not to take away the pet goat.
City code outlaws goats and other livestock in residential areas, but Oreo’s family say they did not know that until they found a citation on their front door this month.
…The city’s Facebook has been flooded with comments like “Save Oreo!!!” and “Awww let Oreo stay.” Some residents have discussed starting a petition to keep Oreo in East Ridge.
The goat has found some sympathy among city leaders, who say Oreo’s case is unusual because he’s domesticated and clean.
“Oreo is cute, no question about it. I’m actually kind of a fan of goats,” said East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble, who has posted photos and “notes from Oreo” to the city’s Facebook page. “But we have to enforce the ordinance or come up with an alternative.”
Gobble said the city’s animal control officer cited the family after receiving several anonymous complaints about the goat.
The Viars have had Oreo for a year — since he was just a spindly-legged kid. They got him from a family friend in Chickamauga, Ga., after their two children begged for a goat.
“They just didn’t want a dog. They wanted a different kind of animal,” Samantha Viar said.
…East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert said he can relate.
“I have young children; I can imagine how devastated they would be over losing a pet,” said Lambert. “If we can create a narrow exception in the law for Oreo and similar animals, certainly I’d be willing to look at that,”
…Gobble said he will ask the council for a 120-day moratorium on enforcing the anti-Oreo ordinance until the Hamilton County Regional Agency can look at the issue and provide some suggested course of action.
The council plans to continue the discussion at next month’s council meeting, set for Sept. 13.
House Speaker Beth Harwell was declared the winner over Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey in a goat-milking contest held in conjunction with “Agriculture Day on the Hill” last week, but questions have been raised about cheating.
“I’ve been accused of that, but it was not me,” said Harwell after the event.
“I’ve never seen cold mild come out of a goat before. That’s all I’ll say,” said Ramsey.
A review of the TNReport video of the event shows both may be right. (Link below) House Finance Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, can be seen standing behind Harwell holding what appears to be a plastic cylindrical cup and, at one point while the milking is underway, a hand holding the cup appears beside Harwell’s bucket. In other words, it appears that someone poured extra milk into Harwell’s bucket.
The winner was determined by measuring which contender had the most milk in the bucket.
Going into the contest, Ramsey, who grew up on a dairy farm, had been predicting victory and describing himself as “the boot-wearing, tobacco-chewing” pickup truck driver facing “the Belle Meade belle.”
“Agriculture Day on the Hill” is an annual event put on by the Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, wherein farmers put up displays of their products and meet with legislators. There are some freebies — including pint-sized bottles of milk handed out to lawmakers and other attendees.
The Tennessee Journal, meanwhile, reports that Sargent has received a letter “purportedly from TBI director Mark Gwyn,” notifying him that the agency has “opened a file on this matter” and warning that “a proven allegation of fraud could result in your removal from office” under TCA 8-17-106.
To see the video, click HERE. The actual goat-milking part begins about 1:30 into the tape.