Last Update: 5/24/2013 4:33:00 PM
Board allows couple to keep pair of pet goats in Westmoreland County development
It's the entertainment value of having pygmy goats that inspired Penny Layne and Shawn Murtha to begin keeping them as pets on their Manor, Westmoreland County, property.
After going through what they called "goat court" last week, the couple now has the borough's official backing to keep their unusual two pets - Bambi and Patrick - in their yard.
The borough's Zoning Hearing Board granted Layne and Murtha a special exception on May 14 so they may keep goats on their property in the Woods of Brandywine housing plan.
The couple, which has had pet goats on Aquillin Court for five years, appealed an ordinance that prohibits the keeping of animals and fowl other than "ordinary household pets" in a residential district.
Layne, the owner of Aunt Penny's Pet Sitting and Dog Training, said the family originally began keeping the goats after a former college intern employed by the borough said it was OK.
She said she isn't sure who complained to cause the scheduling of a hearing. Nobody opposed the goats at the hearing.
Though goats aren't the most-common pet, Layne said she enjoys them because they're "just entertaining." They once had four goats, but don't plan to have more than the two they have now, she said.
"They eat our jagger bushes," she said. "They keep our yard looking neat. They're spoiled goats."
Layne said the goats, who are neutered, de-horned and get yearly rabies shots, are local celebrities in their neighborhood.
"All of our neighbors find them really entertaining, also, and said they would really miss them," she said.
The zoning board's approval was all that the couple needed. That board has the jurisdiction to grant or deny a special exception, so Manor Council won't be reviewing the request, said John Campfield, solicitor for council.
Board member Jerry Nedley said he viewed the special-exception request as "pretty well open and shut." Neighbors voiced their support and officials didn't have any evidence of complaints, he said.
"They all love the goats," Nedley said. "They all take their families and their company down to see the goats."
Nedley also said he has a soft spot for someone having a goat as a pet.
When he was a child growing up in Hempfield Township, his family had a goat and 300 chickens.
"I was only 10, but you sure learn how to take care of an animal," he said. "It was just great training for a kid."
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or firstname.lastname@example.org.