The Sweet Pursuit

Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive

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Homeless Goats in the City

2/17/2012 4:31:00 PM

Tags: urban homesteading, urban farming, agriculture, animal cruelty, Jodi Helmer, E Magazine, Exploratorium, Margret Aldrich

Goats 

As urban homesteading continues its rise, city backyards are booming with agrarian dreams: chickens peck near privacy fences, milk-producing goats bleat greetings to overflying airplanes, and tomato and pea plants stretch toward the smoggy sun. But coupled with these well-intentioned back-to-the-earth efforts is a dark side, says E Magazine’s Jodi Helmer, as the farm animals we bring to the city get short shrift.

“For many urban agrarians, chickens and goats are the perfect addition to a backyard farm,” Helmer writes, “but when the novelty of having a chirping chick wears off or adorable kids turn into grownup goats that eat the landscaping, the animals are often surrendered to rescue groups or abandoned.”

Animal rescue centers like Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary near Salem, Oregon; the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in upstate New York; and Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis, Minnesota—who has experienced a 780 percent increase in rescue requests over the last five years—do their best to care for animals turned out by their owners, but resources are scarce. “Most urban shelters were not designed to house livestock,” Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals tells Helmer, leaving them vulnerable to euthanasia.   

Urban goat ownership will likely increase as cities like Minneapolis aim to overturn ordinances banning goats within city limits, joining towns including Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

Think it would be fun to have a goat in your very own backyard? Before buying, check out rent-a-goat services like City Grazing, profiled in the video below. Even better, call a local shelter to find out if a rescue goat could make your metropolitan farmstead its home.

 

Sources: E Magazine (subscription required), Exploratorium 

Image by Martin Cathrae, licensed under Creative Commons. 

Margret Aldrich is an associate editor at Utne Reader. Follow her on Twitter at @mmaldrich.

 



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Post a comment below.

 

Jennie Grant
1/18/2013 9:56:46 PM
What about all those farm animals living in factory farms. Is anyone rescuing them? Half the states in our country exempt farm animals from animal cruelty laws.

VIC HUSBAND
3/15/2012 12:53:52 PM
The goats can be also given to foresters, to help clean up the loose leaves in the forests. That's a much better idea. It would help to keep down the fires also. They don't need to be slaughter for food, as Aaron said for the homeless. People like Aaron can donate food or his time to help feed them just like everyone else. There is no need to Just assume - that a living creature needs to be killed for Food. If that were the cause - we could kill a Lot of Humans that have been sentenced in Prison for Life or Death Row for that fact, and feed them to the Homeless. That's that a better idea? At least I think so. Animals have rights to.

Aaron Summers Effler
2/28/2012 7:27:35 PM
Seems like there are resources being unnecessarily spent on housing "homeless" livestock animals that could be butchered and the meat sold or donated. There are plenty of homeless people who could use a meal. It's not like these animals were ever intended to be pets.

THERESA WILLIAMSON
2/24/2012 5:46:44 PM
My first suggestion is that those who have animals that they can no longer care for should call up the local high schoo who has a Future Farmers of American club in it. The students would probably know of any one of them who need project animals. Also, another such club is 4-H. Then get with the local livestock exchange. Advertise in the local paper of having animals for sale. Homesteaders like me, living outside the city limits, on 1 or more acres, could take animals. I raise chickens and geese, but I have raised ducks, pigs, goats, horses before. I am sure others have had similar experiences. Where we live now, we cannot have pigs. I like them, but cannot have them.



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