The ‘GOAT’ of class pets?

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Bella the Nigerian pygmy goat has been in Mrs. Havlicek’s first grade classroom at MFL MarMac since mid-March. She has a crate with a blanket and toys, but also roams the room interacting with students. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Bella enjoys jumping and climbing—sometimes on students! They love caring for her. Said teacher Pam Havlicek, “She is loving be loved by all the kiddos.” (Submitted photo)

Two students each day have the privilege of bottle feeding Bella at noon. Kids also help take her outside to go to the bathroom. (Submitted photo)

First graders enjoy holding Bella, and some have even read books with her. She's also accompanied the class on tornado and fire drills. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

First grade teacher Pam Havlicek cuddles baby Bella. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Lovable Bella finds family with MFL MarMac first graders

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


It’s not uncommon to find pets in school classrooms. Fish, hamsters, maybe even a turtle. But, a goat?


That’s exactly what you’ll find in Mrs. Pam Havlicek’s first grade classroom at MFL MarMac Elementary School, which has hosted Bella the Nigerian pygmy goat since mid-March.


Bella’s arrival happened on a whim, according to Havlicek. Born prematurely and rejected by her mother, the baby goat belongs to Sheila Moses, a paraprofessional in the classroom.


“Sheila contacted me and asked if we would want to take her on as a class pet since she has to be bottle fed. She spoke with [superintendent] Mr. Dugger and got permission to bring her in,” Havlicek explained. 


Bella—a name voted on by the first graders—lives with the Moses family, but comes to school each day. The goat is the size of a small dog, mostly black, with white ears and nose, a white tuft on her forehead and a white stripe around her middle. She has a crate filled with a blanket and toys, but can roam the classroom. A pen is also set up outside so she can enjoy outdoor playtime.


“She’s started climbing and jumping,” Havlicek said, “and she likes to go on the desk and rub against people to get attention. Some people have even gotten to read with her.”


“My kids have been so gentle with her and quiet when she needs rest time. They love to get dibs on who gets to hold her,” the teacher added.


Two students each day have the privilege of bottle feeding Bella at noon, and they help take her outside to go to the bathroom. But, like any baby still in potty training, accidents happen.


“When she has an accident, they are quick to run for the paper towels, Clorox wipes and the garbage can. We are trying to get her to use the puppy pads, but she doesn’t always make it,” Havlicek said. “We’re also really trying to get her to not pee on the rug.”  


Bella walks down the hallway with the class, much to the delight of everyone she meets.


“The high schoolers just adore her too. I have some who come down after school to see her at night even,” Havlicek quipped.


The goat has already made it through a tornado drill and two fire alarms. The latter provided a teachable moment about pets and house fires, when the students were worried about what Bella would do in the event of a real fire.


“We talked about how important it is for us to get out and not worry about our pets or animals, that we need to make sure we are safe first,” Havlicek said.


So far, the experience has gone well. The students are taking their responsibilities seriously—not just feeding Bella and taking her outside, but remembering to close the door so she doesn’t escape into the hallway and picking up paper and other items off the floor so she doesn’t eat them.


“We take really good care of her,” one student said proudly.


Bella is happy too.


“She is loving being loved by all the kiddos,” Havlicek shared. “She doesn’t like us to leave. She makes a lot of noise when we’re gone.”


It’s uncertain how long Bella will remain a class pet.


“Part will depend on how long she needs bottle fed,” Havlicek said, “and partly on her behavior as she starts climbing and jumping!”

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