HICO - Michael and Sarah York will appeal the Hico city judge’s ruling that they must remove their three pet goats from their yard in order to comply with a city ordinance.
The judge imposed a $500 fine, which he said would be reduced to $100 if the goats were removed within two weeks.
Sarah York said before acquiring the registered Anglo Nubian Goats she phoned city hall and asked what the rules were on keeping animals in town.
She said she spoke with Anita Mueller, city secretary. She said Mueller told her the ordinance required 1/4 acre per mature animal but added, “We don’t like barnyard animals in town.”
When Mueller was contacted, she said, “No comment.”
York said the entire family attended court and her kids are heartbroken over the judge’s decision.
“My kids hand-fed them as babies. We all went to the hearing - they are part of our family - we are crushed,” York said. “We have all sat and cried and prayed about it. These animals are their pets.”
Her fifteen-year-old daughter even has one goat occasionally sit on the couch with her to watch TV while they share popcorn, she said.
York said the animals average 135 pounds - about the same weight as a large dog. The family owns an Anatolian/Pyrenees cross that approaches that weight. The point is, she said, if they were large dogs nobody would have a problem with the acreage available to them.
York said if her home is included in the acreage survey she has enough land for them and because she is required to pay taxes on that amount of land she feels it should be included. Plus, she said, the ordinance is not written to exclude dwellings in the figure. York said the house is part of the goats’ domain so it should be included.
York said the family is receiving a lot of support on their decision to appeal the case.
“People tell us, ‘You are the test case.’ They want us to fight.” she said.
York said she worries about what is to come if they lose the battle.
“Why don’t I just get rid of my kids - they’ll be next - we won’t have enough room for them,” York said. “What’s next? All dogs have to be a certain size - kids have an 8 p.m. curfew - houses have to be a certain color?”
York said she has made inquiries all around and cannot find anyone upset about the animals.
“The only people it’s bothering is Lambert (Little, city manager) and Anita (city secretary),” she said. “People stop and want to pet them or buy them. They are not noisy or smelly. They sleep at night. I hear more dogs barking at night.”
Hico City Manager Lambert Little said, “It’s out of the city’s hands; they will be appealing to a higher court.”