Update on Benny the Goat in Berlin, Connecticut

Benny and his slide

Benny and his slide

Two weeks ago, I shared the story of Benny, Sheri Sala’s Nigerian Dwarf goat whose home with his family is being threatened by the Zoning Board of Berlin, Connecticut. Since we last spoke, Benny has acquired over 180 fans on Facebook, but he could always use more, so if you haven’t clicked over yet: Berlin CT: Let Sheri Sala Keep Benny the Goat.

Can we get to 200 fans before the board meeting on April 26th?!*

Since I know not all of you do Facebook, though, I’m also going to post here an email/letter I wrote that can be copied and sent to the Zoning Board on behalf of Sheri and Benny. You’re also welcome to write your own thoughts, of course, but in any event, please send emails to hriggins[at]town.berlin.ct.us or letters to: Hellyn R. Riggins, AICP, Director of Development Services, Berlin Town Hall, 240 Kensington Rd, Berlin, CT 06037.

* * *

Dear Ms Riggins and Berlin Zoning Board of Appeals:

I am writing to express support for Sheri Sala in her fight to keep her Nigerian dwarf goat, Benny, who has lived with her family for the past five years after she raised him with a bottle. I urge you to grant Sheri’s variance request as the zoning ordinance in place is misguided and outdated, and Benny’s health depends on his being able to stay in the only home he’s ever known.

First, requiring three acres to keep a goat, let alone a Nigerian dwarf goat, is beyond excessive. Male Nigerian dwarf goats are generally 19″ to 23″ tall and weigh approximately 75 lbs. — much smaller than many dogs.

According to the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association (NDGA) regarding these goats: “Their small stature means they do not require as much space or feed as their larger dairy goat counterparts and their gentle and friendly personalities make them good companion pets.” More specifically regarding housing, Dwarf Goats and More provides the following standards:

Since they are about the size of a large dog when fully grown, you can house a Nigerian Dwarf in a large doghouse and a small pen will do, if you take them out for daily exercise in the back yard, and feed them hay and goat ration. If you want to have a larger pen with grass as a miniature pasture, then a minimum of eighteen hundred square feet is required, (about 20 feet by 90 feet). Actually, a pen of about 60 feet by one 121 feet is preferred for each Nigerian Dwarf.

The Wolverton Family Farm notes that the NDGA has stated that “each goat requires approximately 200 sq/ft of space for exercise.”

Accordingly, a Nigerian Dwarf goat does not need anywhere near three acres for any reason, making this zoning ordinance completely out of line with the reality of what it takes to properly raise such a goat.

Moreover, miniature goats are increasingly being kept as family pets (including by Hollywood stars) and have obtained a status similar to that of a dog in many households across the country — just as Benny has alongside his companion and friend, a Pomeranian. Benny has become part of Sheri’s family, and there is simply no good to be had by removing him. No one has complained about Benny in five years, and he is neutered, de-horned, and vaccinated. He poses no threat or danger to the community. He is a family pet, plain and simple.

Even more importantly, Benny’s health depends on his being able to stay with his family. He has been well-taken care of for five years and is perfectly happy and healthy with Sheri and his best friend, the family dog. Goats are herd animals and prefer company, and Benny has found this in the only home he’s ever known. There is no telling what kinds of psychological and physical ailments that could befall Benny if he were to be removed from his home at this point — and as the zoning ordinance is both misguided and outdated, there is no reason to find out.

I also direct your attention to a Facebook group that has grown to include more than 300 people, including residents of Berlin as well as people from around the world, supporting Sheri in this matter.

Please let Benny stay with Sheri — and reconsider your zoning ordinance requiring three acres to keep a goat as well.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME
YOUR PHYSICAL ADDRESS

* * *

If you plan on showing your support for Sheri, please do it soon — Sheri’s hearing is April 26th and the Board is gathering all of the supportive emails and letters in its information packet leading up to the meeting. Thanks so much to all who have been supporting Sheri and Benny!

*UPDATE: Benny is up to over 300 fans as of April 24th — yay!

You’re maaaaaarvelous!

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