Judge rules that Arborfield couple cannot keep their goats

The goats in question: Abby and Azur. Submitted photo.

An Arborfield couple have lost their battle to keep their miniature goats, after a judge upheld the town’s animal control bylaw.

Brian and Miranda Friske bought the goats, known as Abby and Azur, in October 2015. They did it for dietary reasons. Both Friskes say they have trouble digesting store-bought dairy.

“Milk just bothers us,” Brian said. “That was our purpose for getting these goats.”

He said they asked town officials whether there was already a by-law preventing them from keeping goats. They learned that there wasn’t. So they went to a Regina breeder and purchased two 24-inch tall Nigerian Dwarf-Lamancha crosses, a breed renowned for their quiet, docile nature.

“We feed them well and our neighbours like them,” Brian said. “They don’t make any noise. They don’t smell.”

Only five days later, on October 20, the town council began discussing whether residents should be allowed to own farm animals within town limits. Councillors leaned against it and moved to draft a bylaw.

They notified the Friskes, who were allowed to argue their case before council. But it did no good. A few months later, A Bylaw to Control the Ownership of Animals in the Town of Arborfield became law. Council later added a penalty provision, imposing hefty fines for violations, and told the Friskes to get rid of their animals.

They refused.

Since purchasing their goats, the couple had fixed up a large shed to house them. They say there’s plenty of space for Abby and Azur to roam on their double lot. They enjoy the milk, yogurt and cheese they derive from the goats, who’ve almost become part of the family.

“We do have a connection,” Brian said. “I brush them and pet them and talk to them, (ask them) how are they doing. They’re just really friendly.”

They also found the by-law unfair. “You’re allowed six dogs in town, but you can’t have two goats?” Brian complained. So they got a lawyer and took the matter to a Melfort court.

They argued that their goats should be “grandfathered” in as an existing nonconforming land use, in accordance with zoning law. But the town said the by-law isn’t about zoning. It’s about animal control.

A judge revealed his decision late last month. He sided with the town, ordered the goats removed and imposed $1,500 of costs on the Friskes.

The Friskes said they don’t have the resources to appeal further. Abby and Azur are already up for sale online.

For more on this story, see the Thursday, October 19 print or e-edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.