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9-year-old California girl wanted to save her goat from slaughter. Then came the search warrant

Sam Stanton, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The 15-page search warrant and affidavit was very specific about the target Shasta County sheriff’s officials were after.

“The location is a single family residence in a rural residential area,” the warrant, signed at 6:33 p.m. on July 8 by Shasta County Superior Court Judge Monique McKee, read. “The property has a tan colored residence with a brown composite style roof.”

The document was accompanied by ground-level and aerial photos of the property, along with a street address in Napa and the notation that the subject of the search warrant had been “stolen or embezzled.”

Officers were permitted to “utilize breaching equipment to force open doorway(s), entry doors, exit doors, and locked containers in pursuit of their target,” the warrant said, then listed areas that might be searched.

“The residence, including all rooms, attics, basements, and other parts therein, the surrounding grounds and any garages, sheds, storage rooms, and outbuildings of any kind large enough to accommodate a small goat,” the warrant said.

Thus began the legal saga of Cedar the goat, a 7-month-old white Boer goat with chocolate markings framing its face who is now the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit naming Shasta sheriff’s officials, Shasta County, the Shasta District Fair and other defendants who are accused of involvement in the apparent slaughter of Cedar for a community barbecue.


The details of Cedar’s short life are spelled out in the lawsuit, originally filed in August and amended in March, as well as court documents, emails and other records obtained by The Sacramento Bee through California Public Records Act requests.

The records show the lengths to which officials went to retrieve the goat, turning to law enforcement rather than using a civil court action to decide the matter, say attorneys Ryan Gordon and Vanessa Shakib, who co-founded the non-profit Advancing Law for Animals law firm. They are representing Jessica Long, whose daughter raised Cedar.

“Looking at this case, what we see is county and fair officials improperly used their authority and connections to transform a purely civil dispute into a sham criminal matter,” Shakib said.

Cedar had been purchased in April 2022 by Long for her 9-year-old daughter, who fed and cared for the goat every day, eventually bonding with the animal.


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