A battle is brewing in Danvers, and representatives at the annual Town Meeting in May could lock horns over whether or not to loosen zoning regulations that would allow goats Dean and Deluca to continue to live at their home, or be forced to hoof it out of town — or at least to a different part of it.
Residents Brittany Dupont-Raesly and Tim Raesly have had the pair of goats for the past eight years. When they adopted the animals, they believed the town regulations allowed for them at their Hobart Street home.
But a neighbor complained over a year ago, and Dupont-Raesly said she received a letter in the mail from the town saying that the goats, whom she considers to be her pets, were not allowed.
Since then, the couple has been working toward finding a way to keep their goats. The latest effort endeavors to have Town Meeting next May amend Danvers zoning to allow goats where Dean and Deluca live — the Raeslys reside in a residential zone where the animals aren’t permitted. Town Meeting amended zoning back in 2014 to allow for goats and other animals in one of the town’s other residential zones, according to Town Manager Steve Bartha.
“The question now is should we expand [the zoning] and to what extent should we extend it,” Bartha told Boston.com. Coupled with the zoning question, Town Meeting could also be asked to consider proposed town Board of Health regulations on, if the animals are to be allowed, how they should be kept.
Meanwhile, Dean and Deluca remain in their enclosure at the Raisleys’ home.
“They’re super friendly,” Dupont-Raesly said of the goats, adding that other residents have been very supportive. A Danvers resident for 18 years, Dupont-Raesly also operates the Daily Harvest Cafe on High Street in town. People have stopped by the Raeslys’ home or the cafe to wish the furry brown residents luck. “The kids and parents in our neighborhood, they go for walks and they stop and some of them will bring them a little snack.”
Dupont-Raesly said she’s had the goats, who are actually biological cousins, since they were just kids – she had to get up every three hours to bottle feed them. Though they grew up together, the two have very different personalities.
“So Deluca is a little more, I guess you could say, a little more timid since Dean likes to show off all the time,” she said.
Dean has a medium-brown colored coat and little horns between his floppy ears; he’s about 60 to 65 pounds. Deluca’s coat has splotches of brown and white, and he is a bit smaller at around 50 pounds, and no horns. Most of the time they stay in their enclosure with their own goat-sized house a friend built, Dupont-Raesly said.
Prior to her mother’s death last year, Dupont-Raesly said her mother moved in with the couple while she was sick and on hospice care. Dupont-Raesly would let the goats out of their pen, and her mother, an animal lover herself, would feed them snacks and brush their fur.
Dupont-Raesly recently turned in a petition to selectmen with hundreds of signatures for those in favor of allowing Dean and Deluca to stay. She said the relationship with her goats isn’t different from any other pet, and she thinks that’s why other people are rallying around them.
“They have a dog, or they have a cat, and they know the relationship that is created,” she said. “They’re like one of your kids.”