By ERIN ROLL
A little pygmy goat named Tzigi became a celebrity in Montclair after she was found running loose near Immaculate Conception Cemetery on Monday, Nov. 2, and brought to the township animal shelter.
Two days later, the goat reunited with her owners in Passaic, who say she disappeared on Monday. But in the interim, the goat got a lot of adoring admirers over the animal shelter’s social media feeds, with many people asking if they could adopt her.
“It’s probably the first goat we’ve ever had at the shelter,” Animal Control Officer Michele Shiber told Montclair Local.
A couple was driving on Grove Street on Tuesday when they saw cars swerving ahead of them. When they got closer, they saw a goat running loose in traffic. They pulled over, picked her up, and after a stop at Brookdale Pet Center to buy a leash and harness for her, they brought her home and called the animal shelter, Shiber said.
“This is not an animal that comes into an NJ suburban shelter on a regular basis. We have supplies for dogs and cats along with some ‘pocket pet’ supplies, maybe a couple glass tanks for reptiles or fish,” Shiber said.
The shelter staff rallied and bought some timothy hay and special pellets as food. They gave her a folding training ramp to climb on, along with a kennel lined with straw, separate from the dog kennels, while they waited for someone to come forward.
But who the goat belonged to was a mystery, since goats are not allowed to be kept in Montclair. Neighboring Clifton likewise does not allow goats to be kept.
“She’s a cute little goat. All goats are adorable,” Shiber said. The goat’s story got a lot of attention over social media, with many Montclair residents begging to be allowed to adopt her. “Everybody says, ‘they want the goat, they love the goat.’”
There was even an informal Name the Goat contest, with “Cookie” being the favored name.
Shiber said the shelter was considering some options for animal sanctuaries if an owner for the goat did not come forward. But on Wednesday, Shiber got a phone call from a woman in Passaic who was missing a goat.
The woman’s family owns two goats, a male and a female. The female, a four-month-old named Tzigi — based on the Yiddish word for goat, the owner said — had escaped on Monday and was nowhere to be found.
Shiber asked the woman to send photos, and confirmed that the goat at the shelter was indeed Tzigi. She has since been reunited with her family, and Shiber said that the family’s children were overjoyed to have Tzigi home.
Shiber said it is a mystery how Tzigi got from Passaic all the way to Montclair, and she says it is doubtful that a goat of Tzigi’s size could have traveled all that distance, without someone maybe stopping to pick her up.
When Shiber told Tzigi’s owner about the name contest, and Cookie, the woman told her that one of Tzigi’s nicknames was Vanilla, since their other goat is a brown goat whose nickname is Chocolate.
Shiber said Tzigi’s story is proof that the animal control team has to be ready for interesting and unexpected happenings: “It’s just par for the course. You never know what’s going to happen when you pick up the phone.”