Saga of Cedar the Goat and Girl Who Raised Him Goes Viral After Suit Says Deputies Drove 500 Miles to Take It

A California girl was devastated after her pet goat was seized by sheriff's deputies who drove 500 miles and crossed six counties to collect the animal, which apparently ended up becoming BBQ meat, according to a lawsuit.

The sad story of a 9-year-old California girl and her pet goat named Cedar has lit up social media and rained down complaints on the wrong law enforcement agency.

The Shasta Police Department, which had nothing to do with the demise of Cedar, posted this plea on its Facebook page:

"There is a viral TikTok going around regarding an incident involving a child’s goat that occurred in Shasta County, about 60 miles south of our city," the post says. "We are receiving numerous calls that are tying up our non-emergency lines, delaying dispatch from answering calls for service ... We understand it is a very upsetting incident, however, our agency was not involved and does not have any information."

The uproar actually involved the Shasta County Sheriff's Office, and two deputies who traveled 500 miles across six counties to seize Cedar in a dispute over 7-month-old white Boer goat, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of the girl's family against Shasta sheriff’s officials, the Shasta District Fair and others. The animal was unlawfully seized before it was apparently slaughtered for a community barbecue, according to the suit, which was filed in August 2022 and amended last month.

"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, Cedar, after she decided not to auction him for slaughter," the lawsuit claims.

The story started last June, when the girl, who had raised Cedar since he was a kid, agreed to auction her goat at the county fair. But after auction, she changed her mind, the suit alleges, and the child didn't want to relinquish Cedar.

She is referred to as "E.L." in the lawsuit because of her age.

"After the auction, Plaintiff E.L. would not leave Cedar's side," the suit said. "Plaintiff E.L. loved Cedar and the thought of him going to slaughter was something she could not bear. While sobbing in his pen beside him, Plaintiff E.L. communicated to her mother she didn't want Cedar to go to slaughter."

Vanessa Shakib, an attorney for the family, told Inside Edition, "Cedar paid the ultimate price. This family will suffer for the rest of their lives from this trauma."

Still, Cedar went to auction, and through a representative, state Sen. Brian Dahle's $902 bid won the goat, the suit says. "It is noteworthy that Cedar’s successful bidder was not entitled to, and did not purchase, Cedar. Rather, the successful bidder was entitled to only the cuts of meat that were Cedar. There was nothing about the cuts of meat obtained from Cedar’s slaughter that were unique or special property for legal purposes as to any bidder," the lawsuit says. 

Dahle is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

The girl's mother claims she tried to negotiate with fair officials over keeping Cedar and moved the animal some 200 miles away to Sonoma County to "ameliorate any potential rifts" over custody, the lawsuit said. She also reached out to Dahle to explain the situation and request that he forgo any rights to Cedar, the suit says. "In response to Plaintiff Long’s inquiry, Senator Dahle’s representatives informed her that he would not resist her efforts to save Cedar from slaughter," the lawsuit says. 

But fair officials said they were entitled to the goat, and that the girl needed to learn a lesson in responsibility because she had already agreed to its slaughter, her mother told several media outlets.

The Sacramento Bee, citing documents it obtained in a public records request, reported that Shasta District Fair Chief Executive Officer Melanie Silva had answered an email from the girl's mother, which pleaded for the child to be able to keep Cedar.

"As a mother I am not unsympathetic regarding your daughter and her love for her animal,” Silva replied, according to the Bee. “Having said that please understand the fair industry is set up to teach our youth responsibility and for the future generations of ranchers and farmers to learn the process and effort it takes to raise quality meat."

The lawsuit argues that the girl, as a minor, had "statutory rights" to annul her agreement with the fair for Cedar's slaughter. 

The defendants in the federal lawsuit contacted law enforcement and reported the goat was stolen, the suit says, resulting in Cedar's seizure by deputies.

In court filings, the sheriff's department denied most of the allegations, the Bee reported. The department and fair officials did not return requests for comment sent by Inside Edition Digital.

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