A California mother is suing county and local fair officials for allegedly seizing and slaughtering her 9-year-old daughter's pet goat, Cedar.
The lawsuit — filed on behalf of Jessica Long by the animal welfare group Advancing Law For Animals — claims Cedar was purchased for her daughter in April 2022 as part of a youth agriculture program that allows kids to look after and care for animals before they are entered into a junior livestock auction at the Shasta District Fair.
However, shortly before bidding began, Long's daughter decided that she wanted to keep Cedar and sought to terminate Cedar's entry in the auction. Fair officials denied that request, saying it goes against the rules, the suit claims.
Aware that Cedar had already been auctioned off for $902, Long sent a letter to the Shasta Fair Association, offering to cover all costs in exchange for the goat's life, but again was denied.
"My daughter sobbed in her pen with her goat," Long wrote to the Shasta County fair’s manager last June. "The barn was mostly empty and at the last minute I decided to break the rules and take the goat that night and deal with the consequences later."
The lawsuit claims fair officials then asked the Shasta County Sheriff's office to intervene, and a warrant for the goat's seizure was issued.
"Two sheriff’s deputies left their jurisdiction in Shasta County, drove over 500 miles at taxpayer expense, and crossed approximately six separate county lines, all to confiscate a young girl’s beloved pet goat," the suit says.
Cedar was returned to the Shasta County fairgrounds and subsequently slaughtered.
“The police aren’t judges. They don’t get to decide when a young, powerless child no longer owns her animal. The Constitution says she gets a hearing,” stated Ryan Gordon, attorney for plaintiffs and co-director of Advancing Law for Animals.
Long's suit seeks punitive damages for violating her and her daughter's 4th Amendment and 14th Amendment rights, which protect from unreasonable searches and seizures and guarantee due process.
The lawsuit was amended last month to include the Shasta County Sheriff's Office, Shasta County, Shasta Fair, and the Shasta Fair CEO.
An online petition supporting Long and her daughter has amassed over 40,000 signatures as of Wednesday.
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