Pet Goat Ethics: Is There Anyone Behaving Ethically In This Mess?

Are they just not installing ethics alarms any more?

Above you see Cedar the Goat with his 9-year-old owner, now grief-stricken because Cedar ended up on a State Senator’s menu thanks to a series of unethical acts that could have been short-circuited if anyone with power or authority had been a little more ethical, but no.

Jessica Long bought Cedar last year as a pet for her nine-year-old daughter, but for some reason decided to hand the beloved pet over to a livestock auction at a district fair, which stipulated that the all sales were final and Cedar, like all the other farm critters, would be sold for meat. The fair’s brochure clearly stated “no exceptions.” But Long’s daughter was distraught about the prospect of losing Cedar, so her mom begged the fair to give him back before bidding started.

“Pet schmet,” the fair’s rulers essentially replied. “Making an exception for you will only teach our youth that they do not have to abide by the rules that are set up for all participants,” Shasta District (that’s in California) Fair Chief Executive Officer Melanie Silva lectured in an email. So Cedar was duly auctioned off to a representative of California State Senator Brian Dahle for $902. Just $63.14 of that goes to the state fair and the rest, $838.86 to Long.

Thinking hard (but not well) about how to please her daughter, Jessica kidnapped the goat and decided to “take the goat that night and deal with the consequences later.”

Oh, good thinking there, Mom!

The fair’s livestock manager contacted Long warning of “serious consequences” if the goat wasn’t returned. Then a sheriff from Shasta County, filed a search warrant, a judge signed off on it and officers used “breaching equipment to force open doorway(s), entry doors, exit doors, and locked containers in pursuit of their target.” Cedar was the target. Clever Long, however, had sent Cedar into hiding at a distant farm in Sonoma County, but it still didn’t work: authorities got her goat anyway and drove him 200 miles to Shasta County for slaughter.

It is believed that the little goat was served at a community barbecue to which he had been donated as a gesture by Senator Dahl. And that he was delicious.

An online petition has been started protesting Cedar’s fate, arguing in part,“Let the Shasta Fair Association and the Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly involved in this case know that you denounce the cruel slaughter of Cedar and that you’d like to see a more compassionate response in any similar situations.” Meanwhile, Long is suing the Shasta sheriff’s officials, Shasta County, the Shasta District Fair and other defendants demanding actual, general and punitive damages.

“What happened here is an abuse of power, and an incredible waste of taxpayer resources,” Vanessa Shakib, Long’s lawyer, told The New York Post. “Government officials escalated a purely civil dispute into a sham criminal pursuit.” That takes a lot of gall, since it was Long who triggered all of this drama. Predictably, the news media is siding with the late goat, the little girl and the stupid mother. “Cops Raided Farm To Seize 9-Year-Old’s Pet Goat So State Senator Could Serve It At Community Barbecue,” is how The Blaze spun the story. “I gave my goat to the state fair and they barbecued it — now I’m suing,” was the Post’s deceitful take.

Every participant in this ethics train wreck gets no sympathy from me except Cedar and the 9-year old. The mother is primarily at fault, and in multiple ways, now compounding her ethical breaches by suing and playing the victim. The fair could have and should have made a compassionate exception for a little girl’s goat, especially since the poor kid also is saddled with a moron for a mother. The various officials who treated the pet as if he were a meth stash wasted county resources and good will by using the full power of the law to resolve a dispute over a little goat. Senator Dahl reportedly said he was happy to return the goat, so why didn’t he? Why didn’t Long just buy the goat back?

It seems like everyone involved was determined to reach an unnecessarily mean-spirited and ugly (but tasty!) result. Neither the Golden Rule, common sense, the ethical value of proportion nor basic caring seems to have sparked in any of these individual’s cranium.

18 thoughts on “Pet Goat Ethics: Is There Anyone Behaving Ethically In This Mess?

  1. It is complicated by the fact that the State and Federal government implemented rules about terminal auctions that include goats or sheep when the scrapie tracing was put into effect. Prior to the scrapie tracing rules, it was possible for the Fair auction buyers to pickup the auctioned animal live and either donate it back to the youth, or take it home for whatever purpose. But, when the scrapie rules came out, the fairs were required to make sure that the market group auctions were terminal and the animals sent to a licensed processor. So the fair may not have had the ability to just turn over a live animal either to the politician who was the winning bidder or to anyone else, once the animal was entered and delivered to the fairgrounds for the shows.

    • I think that makes the most sense; the senator simply may never possessed the goat in non-edible form. He may be the only innocent party in this case. He bought a goat at what seems to be a charity auction (a meat goat can’t possibly cost $1000?), not knowing it was a young girl’s pet, and gladly says he’ll return it. Idiots at the fair then refuse, and send in Barney Fife with an entire possee of Mayberry residents to resolve the crime of the century.

      This can adequately be explained with incompetent gusto. The only question remains: Why the hell did the mother send the little goaty to market?

  2. At least the little girl still has her pedigreed Wagyu veal, I’m sorry, I meant CALF.


  3. Preceding the rest of this mess, the moron mother definitely had the first chance to avoid the whole unpleasantness by not giving her child a meat animal for a pet. As it happened, the daughter had to learn, in a most heartbreaking way, the lesson that all farm kids learn about the purpose for which livestock are raised. Dogs and cats are farm pets, livestock are food. I grew up on a cattle farm and learned that lesson early enough that I have no conscious memory of having thought otherwise.

  4. I was a 4-H girl and this happened every year. The owner can’t buy back the animal — it has to go to the butcher. There are breeding competitions at the fair if you don’t sign up for the meat classes. There are always a lot of tears at these events because the kids get so attached, but they are designed to teach the kids farming. The warrant was excessive here — the punishment should have been for the family to reimburse the bidder and not allow the child to participate in the fair the following year.

    • Bingo! I THOUGHT I recalled that you were a 4-H kid, something so far out of my experience (and apparently other commenters here) that this might as well have been a post about life on Mars.

      Any idea why at least some of the news accounts couldn’t have explained what you did in just a few well-chosen words?

      • The media couldn’t explain in a few chosen words because they are supportive of the drama the animal rights groups are spewing and that wouldn’t fit their chosen narrative. I kind of suspect that the whole drama was created from that perspective and find it suspicious that mom had connections with a ‘rescue’ handy for the stolen goat.

  5. Damnit Edward, Trans-goats ARE goats. The trick would’ve been for the goat to identify as a trans-black man who’s lived in San Francisco his who life, waiting for his $5m cash, $1 house, & $197k salary. Then call Crump, Sharpton, Antifa, etcetera.

  6. There was a goat in a pasture down the street that thought he was a Shetland pony like his pasture mates. Hilarious. Of course, goats are really funny, amusing animals. They do make great pets. In an earlier, totally suburban neighborhood where we raised out (human) kids, a family kept two or three goats in their back yard on their corner lot. The goats were usually standing on top of a plywood tool shed for a better view of all the goings-on. We had no idea how they got up there, but goats are great jumpers and climbers and seem to love heights.

  7. This is one of those contemptuous fiascos where I envision a cluster of soot-covered adults walking calmly, but briskly away from the smoldering remains of a Victorian house in a shaky discussion about how the dinner party didn’t go as badly as it could have.

      • And the extra darkly flummoxing part of this is that none of the adults seems to think they are in a position where they have reputations they need to salvage – and I don’t think it’s because they regretfully believe they damaged their reputations beyond repair but rather because none of them believe they damaged the reputations they had.

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