Family seeks help to stop East Ridge from getting its goat - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Family seeks help to stop East Ridge from getting its goat

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EAST RIDGE, TN (WRCB) -- He does like the sweets. "Just give him Moon Pies, oatmeal and grass and he's good," Samantha Viar says.

But that's not what earned her family's pygmy goat his name. "My 4-year-old son came up with Oreo because he's black and he's white," she says.

After almost a year, Oreo has become the Viar's third "kid."

"He's good with my other kids, unlike some goats," Viar says.  "Doesn't ram or anything --he just wants to be petted and loved on."

Oreo has been, in their backyard on Springvale Road in East Ridge, since he was weaned. "He earns his keep eating the grass, but he stays out of everybody's way too," she says. In his own playhouse.

"My little boy and girl didn't want him getting wet."

But.

"We recently received a complaint, anonymously," City Manager Tim Gobble says. "And we have an ordinance."

East Ridge Code Title 10, Section 102: swine and goats are prohibited within corporate limits.

"When we first got the citation, we sat down, explained to them, we might not be able to keep Oreo--they both started crying," Viar says.

Gobble can relate. Smack in the middle of our interview, a red pickup truck passed by, it's driver yelling "Save Oreo!"

"There's a campaign going on in East Ridge," Gobble laughs. "Especially after last night's (Thursday) Council meeting. Jeff (Samantha's husband) Viar made a strong case."

Gobble's chewed on it enough to believe what may be a compromise.

"I don't want to speak for Council," he says. "But through our zoning ordinance we may be able to write in a limited exception for domesticated animals."

Domesticated animals could include pot-bellied pigs; also banned under the current ordinance.

"Oreo's a pygmy, so he won't get much bigger than this," Viar says. "And he doesn't smell."

For good reason. Oreo is no longer a Billy goat; snipped before he left the farm.

"We won't be having any babies," Viar says. Which is just as well.

"Really, we've got to work this so that we don't inadvertently--open up the whole city to a livestock show in people's yards," Gobble says.

The City Council meets again in three weeks. Gobble plans to ask members to put all penalties on hold for four months, to give the Regional Planning Agency time to craft a narrow exception or exemption.

That would leave Oreo free on his own recognizance, through Christmas and into 2013.

"We're not the big bad government coming down on children and pets," Gobble says.

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