JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ill. (CBS) — A Will County teenager is trying to save her beloved pet from eviction.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Pat Cassidy reports, the Pirc Family of Noel Estates, in unincorporated Jackson Township, is being ordered to give up their pet miniature Nigerian dwarf goat, Patch.
Brittany Pirc, 15, bought the brown-and-white goat from an animal swap at the Kankakee fair grounds in April. Patch weighs about 20 pounds and is much smaller than the family’s two pet dogs, Bella, a 65-pound golden retriever and Sam, a 120-pound golden Labrador retriever.
Brittany is always bringing home rabbits, ducks and other critters, said her mother, Tina. The teen and neighborhood friend Lauren Cernak, 14, have a dog-walking business. They routinely walk a small herd of neighborhood pets, including Patch, much to the delight of neighborhood adults who ask the girls to stop so their kids can pet the goat.
Brittany also is a member of Providence High School’s cross-country team, which has adopted the goat as its unofficial mascot.
The trouble started when an anonymous neighbor complained to the county, and that’s all it took to trigger a zoning ordinance notification. The county sent a letter last week informing the family of the violation.
“When I saw the letter, I started crying,” Brittany said. “He’s my pet and there’s really no reason for him to leave.”
Tina said she has talked to someone at the land use department and he told her she could seek a zoning change that would allow the goat. Or she could go to court and have a judge rule that miniature goats are domesticated, not agricultural, animals.
The zoning change could cost $2,500 and there is no guarantee the county board will OK the change, Tina said. So it could be money down the drain.
And she’s not sure how much the court action would cost, though there is a court precedent that allowed potbellied pigs as domesticated animals in the past, she said. So that may be a viable option.
Curt Paddock, director of the county’s land use department, said he empathizes with the Pircs and believes it’s likely that his staff would recommend a zoning change that would enable the family to obtain a special-use permit to allow a goat for personal use with some restrictions. But he said the county board has the final say and would not have to follow the staff recommendation.
The problem with the county’s zoning ordinance is it doesn’t differentiate between a regular full-sized goat and a dwarf or pygmy goat, Paddock explained. The same is true in Channahon where in late 2008, village board members voted to evict a pet pygmy goat because the village’s ordinances prohibited all goats.
The county is updating its zoning ordinance and the public is encouraged to make recommendations that would clarify these types of issues, said David Dubois, director of development review for the land use department. Dubois said the public can make comments or get more information about the zoning update process at http://www.renewingwillcounty.com.
Paddock also recommended dwarf or pygmy goat fans investigate their zoning status before buying an unusual pet.
Tina is going to do some more research before she makes a decision on her appeal. Meanwhile, Brittany has found neighboring farm owners willing to house Patch until the issue is resolved.
The Joliet Herald-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire