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Breaking News: Goat Locked In A Car In A Parking Lot Drinks A Soda

When you edit a blog called "Goats and Soda," and you read a story about a goat locked in a car in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Oxford, Mass., and you learn that the goat turned on the hazard lights and wipers, pooped on the driver's seat and ... drank an old cup of soda, you have no choice.

You have to cover the story.

According to the Boston Globe, the goat belonged to a woman named Ashley Robertson. She had picked it up from a farmer who was looking for a home for the goat. "We had goats," she says, "so [the farmer] offered him to us and we accepted."

As she was taking the goat home to add to her miniherd, she reportedly stopped to pick up a gasket for a leaky toilet and figured she couldn't bring the goat into Home Depot.

A YouTube video that's gone viral shows that this isn't just an old nanny's tale.

Now this raises many questions. First of all, how would a goat feel, locked in a car in a parking lot? And ... should goats be drinking soda?

For answers, we turned to Susan Schoenian, a sheep and goat specialist at the University of Maryland Extension.

That goat probably wasn't happy about being left alone in the car, Schoenian says. Whether it's a pet goat or a farm goat, "it would be somewhat freaked out to be confined in a car."

As for the goat's soda slurping, "goats are very curious animals. If they see something to eat or drink, they're going to do it."

It's the same way they'd try biting a tin can. But she notes, "They don't eat tin cans. They're curious so they bite it. But that's not what they eat."

She doesn't believe the soda would have harmed the animal, which normally eats grass and vegetation: "Contrary to what people want to say, there's nothing toxic in soda." Plus, goats are big burpers, so maybe the soda promoted a belch or two.

Meanwhile, if the idea of goats makes you just go "awwwww" and crave one as a pet, Schoenian has cautionary words. "I've spent a career with livestock, and I believe a herding animal should be raised as part of herd. Goats are a social animal, and they socialize with each other. I'm not saying somebody can't have a pet goat and do a decent job, but goats really ought to be raised in herds. It's how nature intended it to be. That's just my opinion."

She went on to say that goats, with their strong, independent streak, are "freedom fighters" — especially compared with sheep, whom she characterized as "reserved, aloof, with a total flock mentality."

So maybe when the parking lot goat flashed the hazard lights — it was a bleat for help!

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.