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Goat's tale has happy ending; Stanley can stay at Tiny home

'We are all on cloud nine right now,' supporter says after township opts to accept Stanley's designation as Jo-Anne Miller's 'emotional support animal'
Jo-Anne Miller hugs Stanley during a recent visit to her Tiny Township.

Stanley the goat isn’t going anywhere.

After a stressful two months, Jo-Anne Miller can now breathe easier after Tiny Township dropped its case seeking to remove Stanley following a complaint earlier this spring, which said that he didn’t belong in an area zoned shoreline residential.

Without the township closing the file, Miller’s friends who have helped her along the journey planned to seek a minor variance rather than a more costly zoning amendment.

And while the township originally appeared steadfast in its mindset regarding Stanley, its about-face seems to have come down to a new doctor’s note Miller obtained from a psychiatrist rather than the original note from her family doctor that was originally presented to the township, which noted that Stanley was an emotional support animal for Miller who suffers from depression.

“We are all on cloud nine right now but a bit confused as to why it took so long for anyone at the township to make mention of a better written doctor’s note being sufficient to drop the matter,” said Michela Mucciaccio, who is Miller’s primary representative in the case, which came to light after someone complained and the township’s bylaw department got involved.

(To read the original story, click here.)

The new doctor’s note provided by psychiatrist Dr. James Karagianis confirms Miller has a “mental health-related disorder’ and that the functional limitations imposed by this disorder are alleviated by Stanley’s presence.

“I’ve prescribed her an Emotional Support Animal, Stanley,” Karagianis wrote. “Of note, Stanley is a white Saanen goat, who has both been neutered and dehorned.

“He is not a farm animal, which by definition is an animal being raised, or kept in an agricultural enterprise for purposes of breeding, animal by-products, or beasts of burden.

“Stanley’s only purpose is to provide Jo-Anne Miller with emotional support, and to mitigate the symptoms of her disorder.”

But Mucciaccio said supporters are having difficulty understanding why the township didn’t bring up the fact they were looking for a psychiatrist’s note after the first doctor’s note wasn’t accepted.

“Someone easily could’ve said to Joanne, ‘ask your doctor for a referral to see a psychiatrist and take it from there,’ but no one did.”

In an email to Mucciaccio and shared with MidlandToday, chief municipal law enforcement officer Steve Harvey confirms the file is now closed since Stanley is a “service animal and protected by federal legislation.”

The friends' group came together to support Miller because they realize the important role Stanley serves in helping Miller battle depression and plans to continue the fight. To that end, they’ve established a gofundme to raise the necessary dollars to help Miller keep Stanley and also have a petition, which now sits at more than 7,500 signatures.

During a recent visit, Miller told MidlandToday this has been a really difficult time for her.

“I’m not very good really,” said Miller, who has had Stanley as her pet since rescuing him last year as a six-week-old kid from a dairy farm near Craighurst since male goats would normally be slaughtered.

“He’s a good pet and people love him. This has just been a nightmare. I haven’t been going on many walks.”

But with the ordeal over, Mucciaccio said Miller can finally move on and stop stressing over whether or not she will lose her trusted companion.

Mucciaccio added: “She will finally be able to rest knowing he isn’t going anywhere and that this long battle is at last over!”

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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