A California County Killed This Little Girl’s Goat. Now Her Family is Suing.

Nine-year-old Jessica Long was just recovering from a trifecta of tragedies when her parents enrolled her in the local 4-H program last year. She had lost three grandparents over a 12-month period. Fortunately, the 4-H program gave the little girl something to look forward to every day – spending time with her precious brown and white goat, Cedar.

When it came time to auction Cedar off for slaughter, Long protested. Her mother found her sobbing beside him in his pen.

“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,” Long’s mother admitted in a letter to Shasta County’s fair manager.

She offered to pay for the goat and any additional expenses her actions caused. She was only thinking of her daughter’s wellbeing and hoped the county would do the same.

She was wrong. Fair officials called in the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department to recover the goat. Armed with a search warrant, they traveled 500 miles to a farm where the goat was being cared for. Deputies confiscated the animal and led him to slaughter.  

The Longs and their supporters say the actions of the county were barbaric, cruel, and vindictive.

Communications reviewed by the Los Angeles Times indicate that county officials felt embarrassed by the attention the story had received on social media. In one exchange, Shasta District Fair Chief Executive Melanie Silva told Long that “making an exception for you will only teach [our] youth that they do not have to abide by the rules.” 

Long has since filed a federal lawsuit against fair officials and the county. Her lawsuit slams the “egregious waste of police resources” and claims she and her daughter’s 14th Amendment rights were violated.

“The government was seeking to silence our clients viewpoint,” said Vanessa Shakib, an attorney who represents Long. “Our lawsuit seeks to hold public officials accountable for violating the law and enacting a personal vendetta against a little girl simply because she loved her goat.”