WATCH (above): The City of Richmond is giving a family with pygmy goats 10 more days to move them out of their home. Under the city’s bylaw, they are classified as farm animals and not allowed. But as Jeremy Hunka reports, at least one councillor says it’s time to change the rules.
For two years, Richard Simm has housed two pygmy goats in his backyard in Richmond. While they may seem like an unusual house pet, to Simm they’re a huge part of his family’s everyday life.
But the City of Richmond says the goats have to go, as they contravene a bylaw that only allows goats on properties zoned for agricultural use.
The goats —; Freddie and George —; are playful, happy to help trim the trees, weed the back alley and even cozy up on the living room floor.
“Freddie and George are everything to us,” Simm says.
“It’s interesting how they’ve become part of our daily operations, our daily life… We’re a normal family and we’ve chosen to have beautiful pets. In my opinion, it’s remarkable how great a pet they make.”
But Simm fears it’s all about to end after someone in the area complained and got the city involved. Now the family has been given until Aug. 18 to get rid of Freddie and George.
But for Simm’s son Alex, it’s pretty straight forward.
“They’re like our pets, I don’t want to get rid of them,” says Alex.
“They’re like part of the family, and I really love them, and don’t want them to go away.”
And the pair’s popularity isn’t limited to just the Simm family; they’re gaining a grand audience in the neighbourhood.
One neighbour told Global News she doesn’t think its right and adds, “they’re not farm animals, they’re pets.” She says, “all the neighbours and the neighbourhood kids come and feed them, and we all really enjoy them.”
Ken Johnston, a Richmond city councillor and neighbour of Simm’s, says he’s committed to bring the issue forward to council in September to see if they can review the animal bylaw regulation as it relates to pygmy goats.
“To be honest my grandkids love the goats,” Johnston says, but that’s not the only reason to visit the issue.
“The appetite in the neighbourhood is they’re not causing a problem.”
But the city of Richmond says they’ve already granted the goats an extension to stay.
“We have an obligation to uphold our bylaw… and these are considered livestock,” says Ted Townsend, City of Richmond spokesperson.
“This would set a precedent. Do we want pygmy goats in every backyard in Richmond potentially? I have dogs and cats living in my apartment. Do we want pygmy goats living in apartment buildings? I mean those are the types of issues that we have to consider.”
This isn’t the first time the issue of ‘pet’ pygmies has come up in the Lower Mainland. In February, Alexandra Lezo was told by the City of Burnaby to get rid of her two pygmy goats. The case is still under review.
For now Simm says he has no choice but to abide by the law, but with city council set to review the matter in September, he still has hope Freddie and George won’t be gone for good.
~ with files from Jeremy Hunka