COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The City Council and Mayor John Suthers are taking opposite stands on a five-month pause on enforcing the city’s ordinance regarding the ownership of goats and other hoofed animals.
The Council, in a measure presented by members Randy Helms and Nancy Henjum, recently approved a moratorium for the ordinance that — based on public health guidelines — limits a household or dwelling to a maximum of two hoofed animals.
Helms and Henjum said that an unspecified number of residents want the ordinance amended to increase the number of hoofed animals allowed; the Council wants time to study whether the ordinance should be amended.
However, Mayor John Suthers vetoed the moratorium, and wrote the following reasons to explain why:
"First, I believe City Code § 6.7.106(G) limiting a household or dwelling to a maximum of two (2) hoofed pets is well reasoned. The odor and noise created by such animals, including goats, can be disruptive and annoying to residents in neighborhoods with lots of minimal acreage. Generally, such animals belong in more agricultural settings with larger acreage. I assume, because the council has chosen to impose a moratorium on enforcement of the existing law, that it is seriously considering allowing more than two hoofed animals per household or dwelling, and I oppose that. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Ordinance 22-86 results from people who have willfully violated City Code § 6.7.106(G), and are subject to enforcement action by the City, approaching City Council and asking for relief from enforcement of the law they are violating. I believe the Council’s response sets a bad precedent. I believe the citizens should be required to cease violating the law and be held responsible for their prior willful violations. If the Council chooses to change the law in the future, that is its prerogative, but it should not countenance willful violation of the law. While I recognize that the action was unanimously approved by the Council, I believe it undermines the rule of law, and I do not wish to put my stamp of approval on it."
During Tuesday’s regular Council meeting, members voted 7-1 to override the mayor’s veto, with Mike O’Malley opposed and Yolanda Avila absent.
"Are goats good pets? The answer is yes," Helms said before the vote. "History shows that they have been good pets for thousands of years, and they were among the first animals to be domesticated. Goats are common in petting zoos. My family raises goats. If you take care of goats and keep then clean, hygiene isn't a problem. That's why I want to help the constituents with this."
Councilman Wayne Williams said he sees no evidence that having more than two goats created a public outcry or had negative impacts on surrounding neighbors.
Several goat owners who addressed the council said that having three or four goats is the best situation because it prevents them from becoming lonely and being noisy; they also pointed out that the ordinance regulates only miniature goats and not large goats.
The moratorium means that residents who have more than three hoofed animals on their property won’t be cited for violating the ordinance but remain subject to citations if that ownership violates any health regulations.