Follow up speech given on May 18, 2015 to Gaithersburg City Hall. This is the eleventh time asking for a lift of the rooster ban. Asked for the “cry wolf” and “eager beaver” law reforms. Restated the excuses for keeping the status quo. Claimed that we have forgotten what it means to pledge allegiance to the “Republic” for which it stands. A Republic protects individual freedoms. Unless there is a darn good reason, we should never impose restrictive laws on our citizens.
My name is Akiva Rosenzweig. I live on 1 Thorburn Road.
If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything. That is why you failed in 2010. That is why the mayor says the one mistake you made was creating the “looks like a rooster” ban. You changed reasonable laws and clouded them. Why? Before 2010 we banned only crowing roosters, why did we have to ban them completely in 2010?
5 years have passed. Here we are.
Ryan says the council gave good reasons why we need a rooster ban. Please allow us to review those reasons:
1) Neil says because the council created the ban in 2010, they must know best.
2) Ryan says you don’t need roosters to have eggs. Consider yourself lucky, we almost banned all chickens in 2010.
3) Henry says his friend went to court with his neighbor because of chickens. Chickens are always a problem. Roosters can’t be silenced because Lisa Holland says so.
4) Cathy says just because my family can keep a rooster responsibly doesn’t mean everybody will. Plus, chickens are not pets and hens survive fine without a rooster.
5) Michael says if the “Humane Society” cannot find a good way to silence roosters then this whole topic doesn’t make any sense. If the dog and cat vets cannot find a good way to silence roosters then why are we talking?
I may only be in the third grade but I can tell that your reasons are not good. I would like to know where roosters live a happy life? Where is the humane treatment of roosters? Everyone wants to kill them except my family and our neighbors who all love our rooster named “Coco”. Your ban just helps to kill more roosters at birth that don't need to die.
The Humane Society has never said rooster collars are bad. We have two local chicken vets who have seen our rooster and find him healthy and happy. They have signed their name to support us. We have two poultry science experts with signed letters explaining why collars work. We have given this to you long ago. You don’t care.
The ban is to harass responsible families like ours. You like to waste taxpayer dollars by sending animal control to look for and kill birds that might be roosters even if they do not crow. I love my chickens as much as you love your dogs and cats. My chickens have not bothered anyone.
My name is Rachel Rosenzweig. I live on 1 Thorburn Road.
We don’t allow bullies in our schools, no longer shall we allow bullies in our community. It is wrong for the city to tell citizens they have broken a law without showing us in writing what they did wrong. It should be in writing. You should explain it. Far too often city officials knock on our doors then make up their own rules. As city staff, you should value our time. Please don’t come knocking on our doors until you understand our ordinances. Why knock on our door and tell us we cannot have chickens when it says clearly that we can have them?
For example: John is fighting with Julie over a parking space for their cars. Julie has a dog so John phones in that the dog bit him… just to upset her. The city comes out and takes Julie’s dog for a few days because that’s what you do. After a few days, Julie’s dog comes back all frightened and scared plus Julie is frustrated. John can do this as much as he wants. Lisa Holland says this happens all the time.
I have a suggestion. It is called the "Cry Wolf Law". It is part of our list of ordinance reforms and currently has 268 supporters. It is wrong for citizens to misuse city resources. They are harassing the city and causing the city to harass hard working citizens. For people who call the city with fake claims they must receive a $250 fine.
Your duty is to protect all citizens. The “cry wolf” law is a tool to do this very efficiently. Only “real” problems will pass the telephone test. It gives city staff a clear and effective way to manage citizens who take unfair advantage of city services. Imagine if for every phone call the city said “Ok, we will investigate this but if we find it to be false you will receive a $250 citation. Do you still want us to investigate?”
My second suggestion is the “eager beaver” law.
Citizens should receive $250 every time city officials bully and manipulate us. When they make up laws. When they don't explain in writing.
If the “cry wolf” law is to protect city staff from unreasonable citizens, then the “eager beaver” law is to protect good citizens from unreasonable city staff.
My name is Aaron Rosenzweig. I live on 1 Thorburn Road.
A chicken's life matters. However, I won't support a law forbidding us to eat meat. I want a free country where we can agree to disagree without forcing round pegs to fit into square holes.
By the same token, if I choose to love a chicken which you love to eat, you should respect my decision. If I show you the real rooster, not the Old MacDonald’s farm version, you should celebrate this discovery not kill it.
Ryan says the way the city acted was “unfortunate.” I say it was inexcusable.
Ryan says the council has given “reasons” why the status quo is correct. I say they are poor excuses.
Ryan says the death threat is benign so long as it was not carried out. I say “I can't believe my ears”
Ryan says whatever happened, took place 5 months ago so forget about it. I say it doesn’t matter if it happened 5 months ago, 5 years ago, or 50 years ago. I still hold you accountable. All my family wants is to have our pets in peace.
Every day we pledge allegiance to the “Republic” for which it stands. A Republic protects individual freedoms. I have a Constitutional right to own chickens. We are not a “Democracy.” We are not a country where mobs rule. There are 60,000 residents in the City of Gaithersburg. If 59,996 residents said I should not have chickens, it is your duty to say “Mr. Rosenzweig has the Constitutional right to own property, if he is not directly impacting your quality of life, he may have his chickens.” This is the United States of America. I paid good money for my little platt of land, I pay your taxes, I am entitled to make the most of it.
Today I present ordinance reforms to bring to public hearing. Also a letter from Mary Britton Clouse of “Chicken Run Rescue” urging you to lift the rooster ban.
In the coming weeks I will present in detail how our council has deliberately encouraged abuse of process.
Today I remember Isaac Singer, a Nobel Prize winning author. All his books are written in Yiddish. He is the only author to make a living writing in Yiddish.
When asked if it was for health reasons that Isaac was a vegetarian he said: “I do it for the health of the chickens.” In his story, “The Letter Writer,” he says: “In relation to animals, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.” In honor of Gaithersburg’s book month, I present Ryan with “The Holocaust & the Henmaid's Tale”
From: Chicken Run [email@example.com]
Our organization, Chicken Run Rescue, urges city leaders not to prohibit roosters. CRR is the only urban chicken rescue of its kind. We have placed nearly 900 birds since we were founded in 2001. We face a sad reality every day- for every backyard hen, there is a dead or abandoned rooster. We have adopted hens and roosters to homes in Orono and many of the surrounding communities. As a matter of fact, a children's non-fiction book about our efforts was published this year by Houghton Mifflin, one of the largest and oldest educational publishers in the country and it is now on th shelves in schools and public libraries across the US. (http://www.citychickensbook.com/). Featured in the book was a very special rooster, Billium, who was adopted to a home near Orono. Prohibitions on roosters have no fact based justification and discourages people from accepting responsibility for all the males- 50 % of all eggs hatched- winding up in cities and towns. If chickens are to be allowed in a community, both sexes need to be allowed equally. Roosters make wonderful companions. They protect hens from predators, find food for the flock and choose nesting sites. Our shelter is located in the inner city and we have had multiple roosters for 11 years and have never had a single complaint. Our neighbors love the sound and we are conscientious about keeping them indoors until the ambient noise level of the neighborhood is well underway each morning. Crowing of roosters should be handled like any other noise complaint like barking dogs, music, machinery, traffic noise or any other disturbance that a well-written noise ordinance can regulate.
Communities that ban them are complicit in the abandonment/death of 50% of the chickens. This would never be acceptable policy for any other species of companion animal. Further, the sex of the birds can't be determined until they are 4-6 months old so it's unenforceable.
Here are some examples of decibel levels of common sounds:
Human conversation 50 – 65 dB at one foot from source, 26 – 42 dB at 15 feet away.
Crowing Rooster 66-83 dB at one foot from source, 43 – 60 dB at 15 feet away.
￼Barking dog 60 – 110 dB at one foot from source, 37 – 87 dB at 15 feet away.
Automobile traffic 80 – 84 dB at one foot from source, 56 – 60 dB at 15 feet away.
Lawn mower 85-90 dB at one foot from source, 61 – 67 dB at 15 feet away.
Power tool (chain saw, leaf blower, weed whacker) 110 – 120 dB at one foot from source, 87 - 96 dBat 15 feet away.
This is an example of a reasonably worded noise ordinance.
Sec. 6-11. - Disturbing noises.
(a) The owner or keeper of an animal shall not allow such animal to make noise so as to cause unreasonable annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to any person.
(b) It shall be a violation of this section if:
(1) The noise can be heard from a location outside of the building or property where the animal is being kept and at a distance of at least 100 feet from such property; and
(2) The noise occurs repeatedly over a period of time of at least five minutes, during which the lapse of time between each animal noise is 30 seconds or less, or at least 20 minutes where the lapse of time between such noises is five minutes or less.
(c) The noise described in subsection (b) of this section is not a violation if it occurs due to harassment or injury to the animal from someone or something other than the owner or keeper of the animal, or due to a trespass upon the property where the animal is located. This subsection (c) shall not be an element of the offense, but rather an affirmative defense.
The recent fad of having chickens and other domestic fowl has overwhelmed our organization and other animal rescues with requests from people wanting to find homes for chickens, especially roosters, who are no longer wanted, strayed or abandoned. Rooster bans only add to the tragedy.
Mary Britton Clouse, Founder and President
Chicken Run Rescue
Minneapolis, MN firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>; http://www.chickenrunrescue.petfinder.org http://www.chickenrunrescue.org http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chicken-Run-Rescue/475016785200
This is a vital issue for our non-profit organization- we have invested well over $76,700 since starting CRR in 2001, not including substantial wages lost from our small business. Please consider printing our letter to the editor so the public can be well informed about the consequences of rooster bans.
I await your response. Thank you.
Gaithersburg Animal / Chicken Reform Act 2015
Chicken keeping is an issue that deserves consideration since there are many people both for and against it. The reforms outlined in this document achieve three goals:
1.1) Humane treatment of chickens
1.2) Protections from nuisances caused by chickens
1.3) Protection from harassment for keepers of chickens
2. Humane treatment of chickens
2.1 Chickens are pets and require a permit
It is illegal to slaughter chickens in the City of Gaithersburg. A chicken has the same rights as any dog or cat. Two highly regarded Chicken Vets in this area are:
2.1.a Victoria Mary Hollifield, DVM. http://www.bestfriendsvethosp.com
2.1.b Gregory V. Meyer, DVM. http://marymontanimalhospitalinc.com
2.2 It is illegal to ship baby chicks in the mail
The process of shipping chicks in the mail is inhumane, the City of Gaithersburg does not allow it. Chicks are traumatized by the experience and often die in transit. Plus, obtaining chicks locally gives you a support network to care for your pets. You can only obtain chicks that are in relative driving distance from Gaithersburg. The person you obtain the chicks from must sign and acknowledge that these chicks have never been shipped in the mail. This means the only legal way to get chickens in Gaithersburg is one of the following:
2.2.a Obtain adult birds from farms that no longer need them (adopt a chicken). When you obtain a bird this way it does not matter if they were shipped as baby chicks in the mail (this is the only exception to the rule). You can obtain adult birds from farms such as “Stony Branch Farm” in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
2.2.b Obtain chicks from small farms such as “Whitmore Farm” in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
2.2.c Obtain chicks from neighbors and 4H students.
2.2.d Obtain fertile eggs in the mail that you will hatch yourself. It is preferable that you have a “broody” hen to hatch the chicks for you. “Silkie” chickens make great mothers. This way the babies and mother will talk and she will adjust temperature appropriately to create a strong natural bond. If you hatch in an incubator, the babies will never have the chance to connect with their mother, but at least they will have each other and will not be shipped alive in the mail.
2.3 Roosters are allowed
Roosters crow at 90 decibels, the same as a 40 lbs dog. Excessive noise will not be tolerated, from any animal. If your rooster crows enough to bother your neighbors you either have to find him another home or find some way to bring the volume down to acceptable levels. Rooster collars could be an option. Surgery could also be an option. This is a choice you and your pet will have to make. Out of respect for our history of roosters, Gaithersburg allows all roosters to crow only two days per month. The first and third Mondays of every month after 8:00 am roosters are allowed to crow. This is a time when most people are at work so won’t be affected. It is also a reminder to the entire community which days city hall meets for public hearing. Like a Church bell or the blow of the shofar. If your rooster is more than 100 feet from every neighbor’s home residence (not property line), they are allowed to crow unrestricted.
2.4 Chicken Limits
Gaithersburg does not limit the number of chickens you can have but we encourage you to keep around 5 especially if you are new to chicken keeping. All chickens must have names and must be registered with the City in groups of 5 (or fractions thereof). For every five chickens you want to keep, you must give the City a security deposit equal to $250. If you keep your chickens in good health and standing for over 2 years then your security deposit will be refunded. Otherwise, the money will be used to help find the chickens a new home at a sanctuary. Note: 10 chickens produce the same amount of manure as one 40 lbs dog. Chicken manure can be used in vegetable gardens, dog manure cannot.
2.5 Chicken Death
All chicken deaths must be reported. Each chicken must be taken to the state funded lab in Frederick Maryland to perform a necropsy. A copy of the findings from the necropsy must be submitted to the City of Gaithersburg. If you fail to report a chicken death you risk losing all your birds and forfeiting your security deposit.
2.6 Chicken inspections
The City of Gaithersburg has the right to show up and inspect the health of your chickens up to twice per year. We may give you notice or we may not. Your chickens should always be kept in sanitary conditions. While we do not impose hard and fast limits, if we find overcrowding or inhumane conditions, you will receive a citation and possible confiscation of your birds and waiving of your security deposit.
2.7 Chicken coops
A coop must be something that looks good. Prepare to spend $1,000 or more. Something you’d like to have in your front yard. Something you’d like human children to play in. Poorly constructed coops will not be tolerated because they are hard on the eyes and not safe for the chickens. Generally the best designs are what are called “tractors” because they have wheels. These have an open floor that allows the chickens the ability to get fresh grass every day! By moving your tractor every day, you ensure your chickens are happy and that manure is easy to clean up. The following coops are recommended:
2.8 Heating in cold weather
If the chicken's home is by all other means within code, it shall be illegal to remove heating from their water and coop when extension cords are used safely with waterproof connectors.
2.9 Cockfighting is illegal
No animal fighting is allowed in Gaithersburg.
3. Protections from nuisances caused by chickens
3.1 Chicken coops cannot come within 30 feet of your home building, unless you allow it in writing.
3.2 Chickens cannot make unreasonable noise. The same noise nuisance laws that apply to dogs also apply to chickens.
3.3 Chickens cannot wander onto your property without your permission.
3.4 Chickens cannot poo in public spaces without their owner cleaning it up. Chickens cannot poo on other neighbor’s property. Same rules apply to dogs.
3.5 Chickens must be kept clean and should not have an unreasonable smell when standing on the edge of your property.
4. Protection from harassment for keepers of chickens
4.1 One-hundred foot rule
Only households within 100 feet of the chickens should be able to raise a complaint. Acknowledging that there are some citizens with unjustifiable hate towards chickens, we must write this into law. You might not like someone's choice of pet but if they aren't impacting your quality of life, you should not have a leg to stand on. Only close neighbors could conceivably be adversely affected by chickens, hence the 100 foot rule.
4.2 “Cry wolf” rule
Firm anti-nuisance stance. It is not right for disgruntled citizens to misuse city resources in vain. They are harassing the city and enabling the city to harass hard working citizens. For people who call in with unfounded claims they must receive a $250 fine for each incident. We don’t allow bullies in our schools, no longer shall we allow bullies in our community. Imagine if for every phone call the city representative said “Ok, we will investigate this claim but if we find it to be false you will receive a $250 citation. Do you still want us to investigate?”
4.3 “Eager beaver” rule
Firm anti-bully stance. The "eager beaver" law. It is not right for city officials to tell citizens they’ve violated a law without having in hand the law in writing which was violated and explain it to the citizen. Far too many times city officials knock on our doors, don’t understand what their are saying, then make false judgements. If someone has broken a law, shouldn’t they be shown in writing what it was? Shouldn’t they be able to ask questions? Shouldn’t they receive a copy to refer to? Citizens should be entitled to $250 every time city officials break protocol with the intent to bully and manipulate.
5. New Chicken Owner Checklist
A) Must first build a great looking coop ($1,000 or more expected cost) - photo of coop must be submitted with application for permit.
B) Must have documentation of where your chickens came from. Certified that they are not ordered via the mail as live chicks.
C) Must have $250 to place in a security deposit for 2 years for every 5 chickens you own (or fraction thereof).
D) Take this all to City Hall to get a permit to raise chickens
E) Keep the following vets handy:
Victoria Mary Hollifield, DVM. http://www.bestfriendsvethosp.com
Gregory V. Meyer, DVM. http://marymontanimalhospitalinc.com