Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the book City Goats: The Goat Justice League's Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping by Jennie Grant. Grant has been called the "godmother of goat lovers" by TIME magazine and was the subject of a Seattle Weekly cover story. In the chapter excerpted below, Grant tells the story of her effort to change the backyard goat laws in Seattle.
Sadly, a little girl a quarter-mile from our home came down with a mysterious illness that turned into another illness that was life-threatening. Preliminary tests indicated she might have Q fever, a disease carried by goats ... With their daughter deathly ill of an unexplained disease, [the parents] began to tell people that my goats were spreading a life-threatening disease. I could understand their anxiety, but given that the girl had never been to my home, let alone touched my goats, it seemed unlikely that Snowflake and Brownie had anything to do with her sickness. I invited the health department’s veterinary epidemiologist to come and see the goats and where they were kept. She felt that they were well quarantined and that it would be highly unlikely for them to spread disease ... Within a few weeks, additional tests on the girl showed that she probably had cat scratch fever contracted from the family’s own cat. But by that time the damage was done. I had been reported to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). Although concerns about my goats died down, the issue was now in the hands of the DPD, and the DPD insisted that my goats were farm animals and that their remaining in my yard was a violation of the zoning code.