March 11, 2013

Fraternity Goat Leaves Former Home for Greener Pastures

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Bella, the former pet goat and mascot of the Sigma Chi fraternity, left her on-campus home in the fraternity’s house for a 175-acre shelter for farm animals in Watkins Glen, N.Y., last week. The animal will remain at the shelter for the duration of its life, according to Kate Walker, the humane investigator for the Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Walker said Sigma Chi was forced to relinquish the goat for zoning reasons. The goat was initially turned over to the Tompkins County SPCA before being placed with Watkins Glen-based Farm Sanctuary, the largest farm animal rescue and protection organization in the country.

The fraternity said it enjoyed having the goat although she was not allowed to stay.

“We loved having Bella at Greystone, and we’re happy she’s receiving the same amount of love and attention at [the farm],” a fraternity statement said.

Walker said that “one of the main issues [with a goat residing in a fraternity house] is the City of Ithaca prohibits any type of farm animal or exotic animal at all.”

Still, Walker said that the fraternity clearly cared for the goat.

“When they brought in the goat [to the SPCA], they had all the proper supplies,” Walker said. “They did seem to care for the goat,” she said, adding that “it seems to happen usually once a year, [where] we have a fraternity [in the area] get a goat as a pet.”

Susie Coston, the national shelter director of the Farm Sanctuary, said the organization rescues animals used in food production from situations of “abuse and neglect.”

Although Bella was not abused, it was removed from the fraternity house because the situation is not the natural environment for the animal, according to Coston.

“In this case, [the goat’s removal] is kind of just to raise awareness that it is not an ideal situation for an animal to be used as a mascot,” Coston said.

She said that the Farm Sanctuary learned of Bella when one of its members brought it to the attention to the group.

“We have a few members in Ithaca who had actually seen the goat, and it got around that there was a goat at a fraternity house,” Coston said.

Coston added that the situation with Bella was not unique.

“We get calls about mascots. We took in two lambs that were used in a play. In the play, the people who were acting didn’t realize was that [the sheep] have to go back to a farm,” Coston said.

She also said that Bella’s new location in the sanctuary is ideal.

“[A fraternity] is a lonely place to be a goat because they function in a herd. Everyone wanted her to be healthy and happy,” Coston said. “We are just really happy that it worked out this way, and she will have the perfect life.”

Original Author: Erica Augenstein