Justin and Amanda Held with two of their three goats Friday in Grand Rapids, Ohio. The couple has three goats and are being told by the city they have to get rid of them.
GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — When her husband was battling depression, Amanda Held never suspected the goats would lift his spirits.
First it was Maisy, the 8-year-old they rescued last year from a friend’s farm. Next came the 2-year-old Fiona. Then, the baby Loomis, who resembled a baby calf with his black-and-white spots.
When Mrs. Held’s husband, Justin, began spending time with the goats and caring for them, she noticed something she hadn’t seen in a while — a smile.
He stopped drinking so much and focused on taking care of their three goats. He nursed Loomis back to health when he was ill, built a wooden house for them in the backyard and he allowed Loomis to cuddle in his lap to take naps.
“You can’t look at a goat and not be happy,” Mrs. Held said. “My husband was able to get off medications, no longer depressed and completely regained his quality of life.”
But then the couple received a letter last year from the village of Grand Rapids instructing them to remove the goats from their property, citing a zoning violation. They removed the goats the same day.
Immediately, Mrs. Held saw the sorrow creep back over her husband. The doctor too noticed and wrote a prescription certifying the goats as “emotional support animals,” Mrs. Held said.
After the goats became support animals, the Helds welcomed them back into their home.
“I can’t describe how happy we were,” Mrs. Held said.
But, their newfound joy lasted only a few short months. The Helds received a second enforcement letter in September, this time with an assigned court date. During a hearing Friday in Bowling Green Municipal Court, the couple was ordered to remove the goats as soon as possible in exchange for the case being dismissed.
Mrs. Held said she felt bullied by the prosecutor, adding they disregarded the importance of the goats being emotional support animals. She said she will comply with the courts orders, but will fight for her goats and her husband’s happiness.
“These goats are an important part of healing,” she said. “We’re not happy they’re trying to take them from us.”
Phone calls made to the village of Grand Rapids and Prosecutor Skip Potter were not returned Friday.
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