FATE – The Fate City Council will meet on Monday, August 7, to determine the fate of two little, adorable pygmy goats, Snickers and Camo, the beloved pets of Stephanie Fouquette, and her family.
Fouquette, who has lived on the two acre family property in Fate for 40 years, along with her mother, Diana Browning, 71, and her two small sons, initially set out to explore her options for eradicating poison ivy from the family’s property. Her mother, who is extremely allergic to the insidious weed, frequently suffered from its effects.
Fouquette was intrigued to discover that many property owners were using goats to clear their land and control weeds. “Did you know that goats love eating poison ivy,” she asked enthusiastically. “Some people even rent their goats out to people for that,” she added, “but I knew I couldn’t rent them, because my boys would fall in love with them and be broken-hearted when I had to take them back. I just couldn’t do that, so I bought these two little guys instead, and now we all love them.”
Fouquette, who acquired the docile, domesticated, miniature animals in April, was soon delighted to discover another unexpected therapeutic benefit of welcoming Snickers and Camo into the family. “They make us happy.” said Fouquette. In October, the family lost Fouquette’s father to cancer, and they were still grieving. The goats have helped them recover their joy, following the pain of their loss.
“They’re so cute, and fun to have around. They’re smaller than some breeds of dog, but they never bark, or bite, or run off, like some of the dogs I see running loose in our neighborhood do. In general, they are much better behaved than dogs I’ve had. And they’re easier to care for than my son’s Guinea pigs were,” said Fouquette. “And they’re wethers, who’ve been polled.” she added, which means they won’t procreate or grow horns.
Today another member of the Fouquette family is in a fight for her life. Fouquette’s mother has been diagnosed with stage 4 of a very rare form of neuro-endocrine cancer, which has metastasized. “Mom’s oncologist loves the goats, too,” said Fouquette, “because they motivate her to get up, move around, and get outside to spend time with them.”
Did you think that a goat’s purpose could only be providing milk or weed control? Well, not any more. Goats have become recognized as gentle, loving, easy to care for creatures, which make excellent therapy animals.
According to Ellen Winston, co-founder of Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado, dogs and horses are most commonly used in therapy, but a variety of animals can be beneficial, including goats. Winston states there are two types of animal therapy. There is the volunteer type where individuals bring their pets into various settings — like hospitals and schools — to lift people’s spirits. The other type is where social workers, counselors and therapists include animals to aid in therapy sessions.
A therapy goat is like any other therapy animal. A therapy animal is trained to provide affection and comfort to people. They are often used in hospitals, assisted living homes, nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation centers, hospices and other areas to help improve a person’s well-being.
“We know how our pets help us get through life,” says Winston. “Whether trained or not, owning and caring for a pet provides a certain amount of therapy and proven health benefits. They provide comfort, cheer and companionship.”
The family is obviously worried about what the future holds for little Snickers and Camo. They can’t bear the thought of losing them, or of the two being separated from one another. “We think they’re brothers. They play together so well, and cuddle with each other. And they cry whenever they’re separated.” Snickers and Camo seem to love the family, too. “They also cry whenever mom is away for more than 10 minutes,” said Fouquette.
The problem facing the family and their beloved pets arises from the fact that the goats are considered livestock, not family pets, by Rockwall County’s city of Fate. As livestock they cannot be housed on less than 5 acres, while the Fouquettes own only two acres.
“We provide them with more than an acre of land apiece,” said Fouquette, “which is much more than they need. I researched it and found out that they only require about 500 square feet for the both of them. They don’t even like eating grass, unless that is all you’re allowing them, but we feed them pellets, which we buy at Tractor Supply, and supplement their diet with hay. They don’t graze like cows do, so they just don’t need that much space.”
Fouquette was invited by Mayor Lorne Megyesi to speak before the Fate City Council at the meeting on July 17, even though she wasn’t on the Council’s agenda. She stated that the Mayor and other council members seemed very sympathetic to her predicament but their hands were tied, as they were informed by City Attorney Brenda McDonald, that the council could not vote on a non-agenda item, or grant the Fouquette family, or their goats, a special exemption from a regulation.
Therefore, it was agreed upon that animal control regulations would be placed on the agenda for the August 7 meeting. Although Fouquette reports she has been forced to venture far beyond the boundaries of her comfort zone in defense of her goats, she feels these pets are well worth it. She has been shocked and touched by the amount of interest shown, and by the enormous influx of support from her neighbors and others, many of whom she’s never met.
Many cities in the region are facing similar situations, as Urban Farming becomes more and more popular, and personal freedoms, like raising your own chickens, or keeping your own bees for instance, become more sought after. Home owners are pressing for more lenient regulations that will accommodate their small backyard farms. City Manager Michael Kovacs said the council will examine Fates entire animal code at Monday’s meeting. Many eyes will be focused on the city’s deliberations concerning the fate of these two little goats.
The public is invited to attend Mondays city council meeting at 6 PM in the council chambers of City Hall at 1900 CD Boren Parkway in Fate.
Update – Fate City Council brought forth an amended animal control ordinance at their August 7 meeting. The proposed amendments would bring the Fouquettes into compliance with city code when it is finalized. There is still some tweaking to be done before final approval, but for now its looking good for Snickers, Camo and their family.
Submitted by Alice Wise