Granby Board considers request for emotional support goat
December 20, 2016
Apologies for the puns ahead of time, but one of Granby's local citizens will soon have a goat in their backyard, and I'm not kidding.
Municipalities throughout the US tend to have unique regulations regarding what animals citizens can and cannot keep within city limits. Most communities, like Granby, restrict ownership of livestock within town boundaries, but as the Granby Board discovered last week the modern world we live in sometimes means those local regulations conflict with federal statues, leading to rather unique stipulations.
Virtually every municipality allows for cats and dogs, though some restrict the breeds of dogs that are allowed with some cities barring ownership of pit bulls and other breeds that are deemed dangerous. Additionally most municipalities have some provision allowing for the ownership of chickens, and occasionally other small fowl. But generally speaking most towns and cities do not allow citizens to keep livestock larger than chickens.
On Dec. 13 Granby Town Attorney Scott Krob discussed a recent application from a Granby citizen requesting approval from the Town to keep nine chickens and one rooster on their property along with one goat as an, "emotional support animal", a form of service animal. Granby's current Town code prevents ownership of any crowing male fowl and strictly prohibits any, "barnyard" animals.
But as Town Attorney Krob pointed out the existing provisions, which technically prohibit keeping barnyard animals even as service animals, could potentially violate the federal Fair Housing Act. Krob explained that service animals are broken down into three separate forms of service animals: actual service animals, emotional support animals, and companion animals.
"The Fair Housing Act prohibits local governments from exercising their powers in a discriminatory way," Attorney Krob said. "It is likely that goats are a, 'reasonable accommodation', assuming it does not put undue burden on the Town.
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Krob outlined what sort of documentation the applicant would need to provide the Town to have the goat approved as an emotional support animal. The goat must be formally registered as an emotional support animal. The applicant must produce a letter from either a medical or psychological professional clearly stating the presence of a disability as well as a letter from, "someone in the know" saying the goat helps with the applicant's disability.
"You probably should not prohibit her from having goats as long as she provides you with those," Krob said before adding, "she is still subject to your other laws (noise laws, nuisance laws, health laws) and still has to comply with existing Town laws." Krob recommended the Town approve the application so long as the applicant could provide the required documentation.
When members of the Board of Trustees asked about approving the rooster as part of the application Krob pointed out the applicant expressly stated their intention to put a collar on the rooster. The collar will ostensibly prevent the rooster from crowing.
As such the collared rooster is permitted under the existing Town codes, which only restricts, "crowing male fowl".
"The citizen has expressed the male fowl will be collared to make it incapable of crowing," Krob said before adding jokingly. "So the rooster may not run afoul of Town Code."