East Ridge Turns Down Amnesty For Oreo, Belle, Fat Boy; Goat's Owner May Move To Georgia

Thursday, November 8, 2012
Jeff Viar was headed home to tell his children they can't keep Oreo in East Ridge
Jeff Viar was headed home to tell his children they can't keep Oreo in East Ridge

The East Ridge City Council on Thursday night turned down amnesty for Oreo the pygmy goat. And for Belle and Fat Boy, the pot-bellied pigs.

City Attorney John Anderson had drawn an ordinance that would grant "amnesty" to the trio of "companion animals." The owners would have a 60-day period in which to pay a $50 fee to register their animals as exemptions to the city's livestock law. The special ordinance would only apply to the three animals and the owners would be barred from letting them breed and could not replace them when they died.

But no one on the council was willing to make the motion and it died.

Oreo's owner Jeff Viar, who brought his young daughter and son to the meeting and took them home before the decision, said afterward, "I'll have to go home and explain to my two kids that they can't keep their family pet."

He said earlier that his neighbors at the end of Springvale Road all wanted to see Oreo stay.

The lifelong East Ridge resident noted that he rents the house where Oreo has been a happy tenant for two years and he will likely move to Georgia.

Attorney Anderson said when he brought up the issue with Municipal Technical Assistance Service (MTAS) officials, "Their first question was, 'Is Oreo saved?'"

He said there has been a "cultural change" in acceptance of such animals as pgymy goats and pot-bellied pigs. He said, "Oreo weighs 35 pounds and my dog is 50 pounds."

The attorney said "plenty of cities," including Knoxville, allow such animals.

He said if Vietnam War deserters could be granted amnesty, then a goat could. Councilman Denny Manning said he took exception to that analogy. Councilman Jim Bethune, who served in Vietnam, said he didn't.

Mayor Brent Lambert said he had favored an earlier ordinance that would have allowed such animals in East Ridge. He said many "more urban cities than East Ridge" do so.

- Photo2 by Wes Schultz

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