Owner of goats taken in by county wants them back

  • Nineteen goats are up for adoption at Sonoma County Animal Care ranging in age from 4 months and up to 8 years. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

The owner of a herd of goats under the care of Sonoma County Animal Control has filed suit demanding the return of the animals, but the county says all but a handful have been adopted by new owners.

Ken Zamvil, operator of Goat Rescue of Sonoma County, insists that the goats were taken to the shelter without his permission — "stolen," he alleges in the lawsuit — in the wake of a dispute with the property owner where the animals were being kept.

"I just want those animals back," he said Wednesday. "We're worried about their lives."

But a Sonoma County judge on Tuesday denied his request to halt the adoptions, which were featured in a July 29 article in The Press Democrat. The county said that 21 of the 29 goats have been placed in new homes. Seven others remain under medical treatment and one died, although it is not yet clear why, said Sandra Lupien, communications and outreach manager for the county Animal Care and Control Department.

While the herd was in generally good condition when it arrived, county Shelter Supervisor Cathy McCafferty said, four proved to have the parasite coccidia and were suffering from diarrhea. It was one of the infected animals that died and the body was sent to U.C. Davis for testing to determine the precise cause.

The other three have recovered and will be put up for adoption when they have regained some weight.

One other animal is suspected of carrying the caprine arthritis encephalitis virus and is undergoing tests.

Three other animals are the offspring of the goats still under treatment and are being housed with their parents, McCafferty said.

Animal control intend to put all seven up for adoption once they are healthy and strong enough.

Zamvil vehemently denies that he neglected the animals, saying in his lawsuit that they were being fed regularly and treated with various medications, including one for the parasite.

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