Your Village: Can I keep a goat in Iowa City?

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Three of Iowa Goat Yoga’s Nigerian Dwarf goats in Palo, Iowa. — photo by Jav Ducker

I live on the northside of Iowa City. Can I have a goat? – Andrea, Iowa City, via the Your Village feature on LV’s homepage.

Goats are having a moment. Formerly portrayed in pop culture as foul-smelling, garbage eaters, now people find them charming. Goat is used as acronym for “greatest of all time,” and goats are even being used in a popular form of yoga.

Little Village’s sister publication YogaIowa recently profiled Iowa Goat Yoga, whose founders Kimberly Jaeger-Arjes and Nancy Blanchard teach yoga classes on a farm in Palo, Iowa, where Nigerian Dwarf goats named for former U.S. First Ladies interact with participants. (Normally, people who take yoga classes are known as “yogis,” but goat yoga participants are called “gogis.”)

More than cats and dogs, Jaeger-Arjes said the goats embody ahimsa, the Sanskrit concept of nonviolence, an element of the first limb of yoga and the first Yama.

“They partner with us in creating this space,” she said. “They allow people to let down their guards: ‘I’m practicing yoga and there’s this goat — how can I take anything serious right now? How can I be upset about anything?’ It cleans their palate of any kind of anger, discretion or anything they brought to the table.”

“These adorable creatures have nothing to say to you, but only love to give.”

Gogi participating in goat yoga in Palo, Iowa. — photo by Jav Ducker

And while all that sounds delightful, it doesn’t change the fact that the answer to Andrea’s question is a firm no. The only farm-style animals allowed within city limits in Iowa City are chickens. But even then you need an “urban chicken” permit, and to get one, a homeowner has to meet a strict set of guidelines.

Pet goats are a possibility if you live in rural Johnson County, but there are zoning restrictions. According to the county’s zoning code, anyone with two acres of property can have two goats as pets. For each additional acre beyond the first two, the homeowner is allowed one extra goat.

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