Canton has been in state and national news for many things, but only one time for a so-called “killer goat.”
On May 16, 1991, the goat named Snowball rammed his Canton owner several times and pushed him off the porch. The 77-year-old man later died of his injuries.
When word got out that the owner had been allegedly abusing the animal for a year in an attempt to make him a “watchdog,” sides were taken: those that wanted to put down the goat for killing a person, and those that said the killing was justified.
Requests — and even threats — to spare Snowball’s life poured in from around the nation as he awaited his fate in Cherokee’s animal control center. National newspapers and TV stations reported on the furor.
Finally, Snowball got word: He’d go to a private animal shelter south of Atlanta.
AJC newspaper columnist Lewis Grizzard joined the chorus of Snowball supporters, writing in defense of the decision:
“We, those of us who fancy ourselves as animal lovers, won one in the case of Snowball the goat. … There was some indication the goat might be put to death. But we said, “Hey, the goat had every right to do what he did. … I saw Snowball on television. He was a rather nice-looking goat, as goats go. His horns, did, in fact, look as though they could produce some damage. But they had Snowball in a cage and he had a funny-looking set of whiskers, and because, I suppose, nobody was beating him with a stick at the time, he seemed pretty docile.”
Snowball would live at the shelter until his death in 2002, and reportedly never caused trouble.
There are those that saw the Snowball debate as something bigger than just what to do with a killer goat. At the time of the Snowball uproar, one AJC editorial writer noted:
“We are keener to understand and spare an abused goat than an abused human. … Indeed, when a human kills, we sneer at his defense as a dodge — ‘Yeah, sure his mother didn’t love him’ — yet we are sentimental about killer goats. We are a very strange animal.”