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Home is where the herd is

It is a lovely sight to watch our Laguna Beach goats as they protect us from fire danger. I’ve given much thought to them lately, along with climate change challenges and how we are all being affected by the drought.

How wild indigenous creatures are suffering due to this manmade disaster. The decimation of wild open spaces that are no longer habitable for so many creatures.

But goats aren’t wild. They were the first animals to be tamed by humans and were being herded 9,000 years ago. Goats can be taught to respond to their names. Each kid has a unique call, along with its scent, and that is the way it is recognized by its mother from birth. Not by sight. And…one of the most bizarre behaviors displayed by goats is their sudden impulse to faint when frightened, as do some people.

To remain healthy, goats eat 3-4 percent of their body weight daily. For a 90-pound goat x 150 goats in the Laguna Beach herd, that is roughly 475 pounds of feed per day, augmented by 20 percent protein by weight from feeds. Their present diet consists of eating watershed sage. Protein, which is required for a healthy diet, is obtained from hay, grains, and alfalfa. Does the City Laguna Beach augment their diet with these proteins? Is the contractor maintaining the protein sources in their diets?

If we don’t know these answers, we should. If not, we are starving the goats and decreasing their energy source. 

Look at those brown hills. Do you think it possible that the herd receives that kind of nutrition in Laguna?

Below is a chart showing the proposed budget for our Laguna Beach goats in 2021-2022, compared with two previous years. The portion for the subcontract to the rancher who owns the goats is Fuel Modification Program; the other categories are shown, including the Laguna Beach City overhead to run this program (LB Proposed Budget, 2021-2022, page 108).

Letter Levitt

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Courtesy of Jahn Levitt

In previous years our fire prevention program was starved, while our fire abatement program grew (fire equipment and overhead). That means our goats were starved too.

In previous years this same program exceeded $1.0 million. Now the City is spending $1.0 million in a separate program to study invasive weeds” in South Laguna. What about the living creatures we use as fire prevention, never complaining about the food, always on the job? Don’t they deserve as much concern as an invasive weed program?

Would it be a good idea for the city to call in an independent veterinarian, to be certain our goats are healthy and receiving the nutrition they require to thrive?

When the city signs a contract on behalf of us residents regarding animals, are nutritional needs listed, is there a vet on call, and shouldn’t someone from the city check this occasionally? is the contractor’s responsibility to maintain these animals. But ultimately, isn’t it the responsibility of us all?

If you hired a contractor to build your home, would you sign a contract and never check on the contractor’s work, or take his word for his work?

Certainly, animals used for labor, to protect us residents from fire danger, deserve at least that. Let’s be sure the goats are safe.

Jahn Levitt

Laguna Beach

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