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Pet goat unites democratic protest in Frankston, Australia

Free Victor!
Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Despite popular opinion, local councils don’t simply exist to enforce petty, confusing bylaws and issue parking fines. They perform several valuable functions - provision of many local services, town planning, management of local parks and facilities.

It made us wonder why so many good citizens have such a low opinion of them. Well, being good citizens ourselves, we set out on a crusade to find out. Then, yesterday, we stumbled upon Victor…

Victor is the loyal and loving pet of Ian Cook. Until recently, Victor lived with Mr Cook at their home in Frankston. Then the Frankston council took Victor away. But why?

See movie of Victor in his temporary home.

Well… you see… Victor is a goat. Apparently, as of recently, being a goat is against the law in Frankston. Or is that keeping a goat? We can’t be sure, but perhaps Deborah Morris of Leader News can better inform us. Click here to read her article, and be sure to return to this site to add your comments. Edit - also click here to see Deborah Morris’ follow-up story.

We’re interested in your thoughts on this story. Is it fair, or is it an example of petty local government bureaucracy? We clearly think it’s the latter, but would like you to share your thoughts. Should we start a petition on this site - a grass roots movement, if you will?


What you can do: visit and sign the petition.


Victor is not wildlife and goats are not good for the Australian situation, but as so many have pointed out, lawnmowers are much worse than goats. We certainly have too many humans already in Frankston. And humans are so much more harmful to the environment than anything else, due to our massive consumption. One goat on a grassy hillside offsets quite a few humans who would otherwise be inhabiting that hillside with their cars, pumped water, sewerage, coal-fired electricity, etc.

Vive Victor!

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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I wonder why Frankston Council has it in for goats? Yes, they're introduced and yes, they have a tendency to go feral.

But I imagine the good people of Frankston are still able to keep cats, dogs, rabbits and rats as pets? Surely the environmental damage done by these species is equal to or greater than that done by goats.

It surprises me that Australian laws are so lax about keeping cats and dogs, given the heavy regulation imposed on people caring for native animals; and goats, apparently.

For those interested in the issues around replacing introduced species with natives, 'Going Native' by Michael Archer and Bob Beale is worth a read. It's confronting and I found it hard to agree with every concept supported by the authors. Nevertheless, there are some valid ideas there and the basic idea that using native species in place of introduced ones - in some circumstances - seems to make a lot of sense.

Back in Frankston, I say good luck to Victor and his human companion!


Victor and his human associate were interviewed on channel 9 and you can look at the video here

Victor is an unusually hansome goat! He is really beautiful.
I think that local councils, along with all levels of government in Australia, are living in a 1950s version of reality where everyone fits into a tightly constructed consumer box. As oil depletion realities set in, with the impossibility of cheaply transporting food long distance, quite apart from having pets, people are going to be knocking down their fences and sharing backyards to raise animals and grow crops. For this reason it is imperative that we stop making suburbs more densely inhabited and that we take power back at a local level.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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Copyright to the author. Please contact sheila [AT] candobetter org or the editor if you wish to make substantial reproduction or republish.


IN CLOSED FRANKSTON VOTE Canadian Press, Tim Murray , May 28/08

At an in-camera meeting of Frankston goats, resident ruminants chewed over a resolution to ban humans from the city outright, or build a sunset clause into it. This would allow existing ratepayers to stay the duration of their natural lives and continue to pollute the area with their cars and gas lawnmowers, among the worst GHG emitters on the planet.

The more moderate approach prevailed only because of the sentimental attachment that many senior goats had formed with their homo sapien pets. One reportedly said of his old companion at the mike, “Bah, I knew him as a kid, watched as a nanny, and now HE’s an old goat.”

The consensus of the meeting was there were too many humans in the region, 3.8 million and growing in Melbourne and 21 million in Australia itself, and most of them were not a native species. The ecosystem was being irreparably damaged by these numbers, whether they were from Europe or Ethiopia or born right here in this country. A bylaw was needed soon to ban them. But how and when was the question.

The problem as always was and is, there just too many humans in suits making money developing and rezoning land to more and more people, who are pressured to live more compactly, with little room for other critters.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist on behalf of Tim Murray in Canada

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I agree that goats and other animals which have been introduced to Australia can cause an environmental problem, but as a pet owner, I also admit to a long addiction to having pets. I have welcomed pet mice, horses, rabbits, a ferret, a lizard, goats, dogs, cats, birds, roughly 100 introduced tropical fish and one rather goofy pig into my life over my lifetime. And it's true. I got attached to each and every one of them.

I also understood the responsibility that went with having a pet in my life. You don't let cats run around killing birds. You don't let tropical fish out in the bay. And you don't let dogs roam the streets. You abide by the laws and seek to ensure that they don't play loud music or throw wild parties (or is that children?). You take care of your pets and they take care of you, and you respect your own environment as well as theirs. Provided this is the case, and there is no cruelty or neglect, there is really no comprehensible reason why someone should be forced to give up a pet.

For those of us who understand that animals are more than just livestock running around, waiting to be eaten, it’s bewildering how anyone could support the removal of a clearly beloved domestic pet from the back yard of a private citizen.

Increasingly pet owners are being forced to discount the importance of having pets as part of their family by laws similar to this and other market restrictions which are put on rental market places which more and more often say “No Pets”.

We are becoming a society which discounts the importance of having the experience of a loyal and adoring pet, and who almost sees a pet as a disposable “optional extra” regardless of the relationship it has with its family.

What possible reason could there be to class this animal as “livestock” a term which inherently suggests it has no personality, no rights and no value beyond it’s consumer worth.

I am lucky to have grown up in country and rural areas where there were no such restrictions on our animals. But even if we are to introduce new laws relating to the custody of pets, shouldn't there be an amnesty for those who were obtained legally prior to the changes?

(excerpts from this are at