A Move to Legalize Goats in Albany

A petition seeks to change city code regulating the keeping of backyard goats.

A petition asking the Albany City Council to remove a ban on keeping backyard goats has gathered 70 signatures in seven days. The city’s current code allows for goats to be temporarily employed as weed eaters, but the authors of the petition want to make it possible for Albanians to keep female or castrated goats for milk or as pets.

According to the petition, goats make good neighbors:

“Female goats and wethers (castrated males) do not carry the typical "goaty" aroma, and de-horned, they are completely harmless. Like dogs they are social animals and have a gentle disposition. Unlike dogs, they don't bite. Also, they are quieter than hens.”

If the city council were to change the municipal code, Albany would not be the only East Bay town permitting residents to raise goats. Just as Berkeley’s rules provide greater freedom than Albany in raising backyard chickens, Berkeley allows residents to keep two female goats. El Cerrito permits goats on properties of 10,000 square feet or more.

The petition doesn’t specify how many goats Albany should allow, but it does claim that two miniature goats can produce all the milk a family needs.

Linda Schneider February 19, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Senior A. Titude February 19, 2013 at 04:15 PM
I'd be in favor if strict measures were in place regarding storage of goat feed. My neighbor's chickens draw rats (vector control was out and said that was the problem) so I would want to ensure that this issue was eliminated. Also, strict measures regarding enclosures would be necessary as well; I leash walk a hunting breed dog and it would be a disaster if a goat got loose. Responsible goat ownership would be fine, actually pretty cool.
Margaret Tong February 19, 2013 at 04:37 PM
goats are roaming animals. I think it's cruelty to keep them confined in a wee Albany garden
jencalif February 19, 2013 at 04:41 PM
I do not support goats in Albany. I have lived with them in Sonoma County and also I had friends that raised them at home.in Daly City many years ago.They are very playful and challenging.We have very little open space in Albany and they could cause a great deal of damage if loose.Alos we all live very close to each other here, there will be smells.Goats are sweet but not city animals, they need open space.
Suzanne Popkin February 19, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Thank you for the article. There are actually over 200 signatures as of today. Many Albany residents have commented that goats make great backyard pets, they are very kid friendly (they love to be pet and don't bite) and contribute to sustainability. Cities all the country are changing ordinances. El Cerrito just updated their ordinance and they do allow goats on smaller properties with a special permit. If you support this, please sign the petition. http://signon.org/sign/goats-in-albany?source=c.fwd&r_by=1617059
Bart Grossman February 19, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Does anyone remember potbellied pigs, last decades animal fad? Turned out the cute little guys grew into huge pains in the butt. I just watched a video of goats screaming. Not likely to be a pleasant addition to the Albany soundscape. We already have feral cats, dogs on the beach and turkeys marching down the street. Do we really need goats?
Jack Rosano February 19, 2013 at 06:40 PM
I'm with you, Bart. Farms in Berkeley??? Yes, if you want to go and play with the cute little critters, go up to the Little Farm in Tilden Park. Great place to take little City kids, so they can see that milk and eggs aren't only at Safeway!!!
D. Mehrten February 19, 2013 at 08:02 PM
How about some limits--such as no more than one on smaller properties, and maybe a limit on all pets over a certain size? A goat, a couple of hens and a big dog in a little yard could be too much. An O.K. From the neighbors should be included too. Otherwise seems reasonable--goats can't be noisier than a lot of the local dogs, and they produce tidier waste.
Margaret Tong February 19, 2013 at 08:15 PM
I ken the dog who lives in the house behind mine always barks when I put out the washing. He growls and he barks. It's not nice at all that I canna put out my washing in peace.
Tony Caine February 19, 2013 at 08:37 PM
I, too, saw the unearthly screaming goat video and could not support goats in Albany yards if they are capable such noises. As a compromise for goat lovers I suggest putting a goat on the city council. They could vote BAA for NAY and would get it right about half the time, which seems to the the council average in recent years. As a plus, they could trim the grass on city property when not busy deciding the fate of the city.
Mr Eous February 19, 2013 at 09:29 PM
This seems like an incredibly short-sighted petition. Farms are farms and cities are cities. There is a reason for this. If you want to raise goats, do it on a farm where they have lots of space. Also, there needs to be a clear definition as to what constitutes a pet goat from a food source goat. If I am Muslim and I want to sacrifice a goat on a religious holiday, can I do that in the privacy of my own backyard now? I assume it would be legal. Put that in your feed bin and chew on it.
Suzanne Popkin February 19, 2013 at 11:09 PM
I understand the worries about noise, smell and damage. I would be worried too if I hadn't had goats before. But since I have had them, I can honestly say that they make much less noise than dogs (that video of screaming goats is popular on youtube because someone captured and collected the unusual, not because it is the norm, trust me). In terms of smell, their droppings dry up and cannot be smelled outside the fenced in area. In terms of damage, they are very docile creatures - the worst they may do before someone notices (which wouldn't be long) is eat some grass. The bottom line is that if the neighbors don't mind, why should a city prohibit individuals from doing something they enjoy and that's good for the environment?
Tatter Salad February 20, 2013 at 01:49 AM
I agree with all your oberservations regarding goats in Albany, except the last one: "The bottom line is that if the neighbors don't mind, why should a city prohibit individuals from doing something they enjoy and that's good for the environment?" a) The permit process does not include a survey of the neighbors; and, as a goat lives about 12 years, what is done when a neighbor has changed their mind? There is a marked difference between 'doesn't stink much when dry', is not the same as "doesn't stink at all." (Who will be the downwind neighbor?) b) Albany has a rat problem; rats only need water and hay (or goat poop) in order for the rats to live-long and prosper. Who is going to deal with the rats? As it stands, there is no legal nor humane method to deal with the Turkeys (and I don't mean just those recently elected!).
Erika Lockhart February 20, 2013 at 02:06 AM
I support being able to have goats. Goat milk is more easily digestible than cow milk and if you see the prices of goat milk in the stores for making cheese, for example, it's incredibly high and you might have a very good reason for raising dairy goats on your .1 acres of land. You might also want them to eat your grass instead of paying a human being to cut it or doing it yourself. On the other hand, anyone thinking about keeping goats should keep in mind that they can kill trees and vegetation other than what was intended. They will eat tree bark and kill them. If all you have in your back yard is grass and a fence, that's good. But you still need to feed them other stuff and provide veterinary care. It's not like you can just put them in your yard like a Roomba vacuum and leave them alone. I also don't think that you'll get a lot of appropriate veterinary care in an urban area. I have friends who raise goats. I have considered keeping them myself and read books on raising and caring from them. I've had a baby goat suck on my finger and make me think that I just wanted to take him home. But there is a lot more to it than that and the person who made the comment about the pot-bellied pigs comes to mind. Anyway, anyone who wants to take on an animal should be subject to the same rules regarding any pet, including any effects on neighbors, and shouldn't be taken lightly.
Scott Ferguson February 20, 2013 at 03:02 AM
I actually had a pet goat in Albany! In the early 1990's I brought a pet goat home from Scout Camp. We used the goat to eradicate all the poison oak that was found in the campsites by eating eat. His name was Targie. When the summer was over he needed a place to live for the winter. He came home with me to Albany. We got an official goat licence issued by the City along with all the appropriate permits. Back then, the City had specific requirements and codes that we needed to follow that addressed such issues as, proper living enclosure, food storage structure, proper yard size and fencing requirements. The city inspector came and inspected our yard and made sure all the requirements were met. Targie was a neutered male nubian goat and we had nothing but a great experience. He did not stink. He was not dirty. He was just a friendly animal. Like any animal he did need to be tended to daily. We took him on regular walks around the neighborhood. He even went to the Solano Stroll! We treated him more like a dog than a farm animal. With my experience in the 90's, I would support goats in Albany again as long as specific requirements were met including having a minimum amount of yard space per goat. We don't want several goats living together in a small space. That would quickly become a stinky nuisance. I posted a photo of Targie for all to enjoy. He was a great pet.
Scott Ferguson February 20, 2013 at 03:09 AM
In the early 1990's I took my pet goat to a vet in San Leandro who specialized in goats. At that time there was also another vet in Richmond that saw goats too. Not sure what is available today.
Tatter Salad February 20, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Nearest Vet that will see them other than U.C.Davis is in Cotati (Cotati Large Animal Hospital). They don't make house calls to this County.
Bryan February 21, 2013 at 04:16 AM
I've lived next door to goats in Albany for over a year and had no problem with smell or noise. Goats do make some noise but I find dogs, as great a pet as they can be, can be much louder, even erratic animals, barking loudly at random stuff, pooping in yards and on sidewalks, and once going raving mad at my young kids with me on a hike up Albany Hill. Goats are nothing like that yet we accept dogs with few restrictions. The wild turkeys in town are "free range" and go where they please. Goats in fenced yards would not freely roam the neighborhood eating and pooping on everything in sight. There are small breeds of goats good for milking which need less space yet provide enough milk for a family to use as-is or make cheeses, yogurt, etc. I look forward to goats being approved in Albany with sensible requirements for an urban environment.
albany neighbor February 21, 2013 at 05:19 AM
I've lived next to urban Nigerian dwarf goats. They were easy, quiet neighbors. They are about the same size as medium-sized dogs, except they were much calmer than dogs and didn't bark.
Bart Grossman February 24, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Goats are herd animals. To have one is actually an act of cruelty.


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