Township officials say family's goats, chickens are not pets

Township officials say family's goats, chickens are not pets

CARROLL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — You can have goats, chickens and ducks in the Pittsburgh city limits but they're apparently against the law in rural Carroll Township, even though the zoning ordinance does not clearly say so.

"They like to be hugged. I never had a turkey before in my life. I had chickens in North Carolina and ducks, but then I never had a turkey and it's been the coolest thing," Josh Taylor said. "Eight chickens. Some of the more fluffy ones, those are the kids' favorites. Three of the little mini goats. And the goats are full sized right now. That's all the bigger they're going to get."

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Josh Taylor's answer to getting his kids outside and away from video games is a small animal enclosure on his property, housing chickens, ducks, goats and turkeys.

"That's the whole reason we wanted this lot was to give the kids something to do," he said.

He said all of the animals are pets, not being raised to be food. His kids are even working to enter 4-H competitions.

"Oh they love them. They love them. They get in here and they build little forts and all the chickens, you can just walk right up and pick them up," Taylor said.


He said someone complained to Carroll Township in Washington County about the animals and that they violate the law. Channel 11 looked into the zoning ordinance; Chapter 82-2 states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any pigs, hogs, swine or other animals within any zoning district associated with agricultural farming except the Agricultural District." It does not clearly state that chickens, ducks, turkeys and goats fall into that category.

Channel 11 contacted an attorney for the township. He did not want to talk on camera, but said over the phone the animals clearly violate the ordinance. He said this was getting blown way out of proportion. The attorney told Channel 11 this issue was hardly worth his time, that Taylor was attacking the law and that he was using his children as a shield. He added it was a neighbor that complained to the township about the smell and the noise of the animals.

Neighbors living directly across the street or next to Taylor's property all told Channel 11 they had no issue with the animal enclosure other than maybe it was not the nicest thing to look at in the yard. But no one Channel 11 talked with said they had complained.

"There's a farm there. There's a farm there. There's chickens all back here from people and there's a whole goat farm on the other side. Why us?" Taylor asked.

He said he would appeal a recent local magistrate's ruling that the animals are against the law. He added he has petitions circulating to keep his pets and he is working with state 4-H and agriculture officials.

"It's a family thing. You know, we'll go in there on the weekend and have coffee and just watch them (the goats) because they're hilarious. And you know, it's like I said, it's better than the kids playing video games. They want to be out here," Taylor said.