chicken citation :(

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Jster, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Jster

    Jster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 11, 2007
    We got a citation yesterday for our chickens [​IMG] [​IMG] :irked: [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The local ordinance says that poultry, as defined by the Florida statutes, are not allowed. And the Florida statutes defines poultry as domesticated food birds. Elsewhere, it distinguishes "live poultry" as birds prepared for slaughter and "dressed poultry" as birds slaughtered and to be sold as food. Also, in my research, I found a Fl Supreme Court case which describes chickens as "household pets" although it is dicta.

    So I'm pretty sure we have a good argument...these chickens are PETS we have no intention of EATING them. But I'm very irritated that a police officer spent half the day tracking down the code which in his interpretation says chickens are illegal when we have, actually, crimes to be prevented. Especially irritating is the fact that a couple of months ago we had a multiple incidents with teenagers throwing chunks of concrete at our house, putting two holes in the siding, breaking a window, and terrorizing me (who was sitting in front of a window a few feet away from where they hit, and also because my kids were outside at the time). We called the police immediately both times we were home when it happened, we also got a school paper with a name on it that one kid in the group dropped, also they were walking home from their bus stop so an easy group to find/question/etc, and I could certainly have picked the rock thrower out of the group as I saw him. In addition, the second day, the kids on their walk home also knocked out windows in two other houses and a truck. But a couple of weeks later I got a letter from the police saying they didn't have enough evidence (as if a name, an ascertainable group, lots of damage, an eye witness, and chunks of concrete prossibly with some prints on them isn't evidence).

    But now, apparently, the police have a lot of time on their hands, probably because they are skilled at letting trails run cold.

    I think a neighbor of ours might have complained...he is interested in the chickens and asks a lot of questions but is also a bit standoffish at times, and constantly manicuring his lawn.

    I'm very irked, but I'm going to fight it, I'm just not sure what would be the best route. Calling the officer's superior? The media? A petition? My city council member? (we're a small, considered eclectic little town) If anyone has had to deal with something similar, I'd love some help!
     
  2. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Paging SeaChick.
     
  3. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    Oh, Bummer! I hope there is something you can do. I believe Envirogirl did something like this.....I can't remember exaclty, but maybe she and Seachick can help you?
     
  4. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Iceland
    First thing to do is research the actual town ordinance, find out what you are
    zoned for, minimal acreage requirements, etc...

    This is an issue that comes up often. Many people get very emotional about it
    which doesn't help.

    I don't mean to sound insensitive but I must ask did you check the ordinances
    before you got chickens? In addition, I know you may be frustrated about local
    troublemaking kids, but that has absolutely nothing to do with you having chickens,
    nor does your assesment of your local law enforcement.

    This is coming up in many parts of the country. Some are winning, most are losing.
    Research, talk to zoning, maybe an attorney, and then make your decision.

    Best of luck.
     
  5. Richard

    Richard Out Of The Brooder

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    May 8, 2008
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    I worry about this happening to me.Even thou I talked with my neighbors before we got our chickens and none had a problem with it as long as they dont crow . We live in the township outside of town And have alittle over an acre of land. When I called the county to find out the rules for chickens I was told that you need 2 acres to have a horse but you need 5 acres to own a chicken.Which to me makes no sense what so ever. Thay claim that a horse is considered a pet and chickens are considered livestock
     
  6. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know what my town's ordinances are, and I'm not about to ask. I just try to keep the neighbors happy with occasional fresh eggs. In the back of my mind, though, is always the possibility that some bureaucrat with too much time on his hands will make me his mission.
     
  7. heavypetting

    heavypetting Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 14, 2007
    Charlotte, NC
    Rest assured, this citation was issued because of a complaint, not because an officer was out looking for random chickens or had spare time on his hands.

    Previous advice is correct. Find out exactly what the municpal code states in your area.

    I ran into the livestock vs. pet issue when I took Mr. Joy in for a health certificate for his pet therapy work. I wanted to get some blood tests for him but the vet checked the state ag dept. regulations first.

    If he'd have showed up positive for anything, not only would she legally have to seize and euthanize Mr. Joy, but they would come and cull the rest of my birds!

    We checked out the neighborhood prior to moving in. There were several other chicken families in the neighborhood. We had no deed restrictions or home owners association.
    We built the final coop to specs I obtained from out local Animal Control Bureau. We also befriended neighbors on adjoining properties, gave them fresh eggs and our phone number to call if they were ever disturbed by our birds.

    Most important, don't get angry! Be very courteous through the process to all involved. Go door-to-door and speak with your neighbors about how important your pets are to you. Ask them what you can do to peacefully coexist in the neighborhood. Sometimes, the best method it to keep the birds in the coop after dark to mid morning. No crowing or clucking will disturb anybody during normal sleeping hours.

    If your battle is with the town, seek the advice of an attorney who has animal litigation experience. Do some reasearch, consult others nationwide who had taken on city/town regulations and won.

    Good luck!
     
  8. key west chick

    key west chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2008
    Gainesville, GA
    Been there, done that. City marshall left a business card on our door. DH called and they said we (I) had 7 days to find new homes for my chickens. DH promptly cited ordinance number blah blah blah and told marshall we were ok.We had checked with an attorney friend before we got the chickens.They were considered pets not livestock. Marshall said he would need to check into it and let us know. He called the next day and said we were right and apologized. We were lucky.[​IMG]
     
  9. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    I'm glad to see some positive results posted here.

    Like Oblio13, we got our chickens before we checked. After reading many
    posts like this we finally did check and found we were allowed up to 20 chickens
    but the writing was vague. We lucked out.

    Please get a copy of your ordinance from city hall and post a copy here. We are
    all behind your right to have pet chickens.

    Heavypetting's advice of don't get mad is a good one. Ask animal control or
    whoever is in charge for "their help".
     
  10. Jster

    Jster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 11, 2007
    Thanks everyone. I agree it's important to keep the emotion as minimal as possible. At the same time, I'm very irritated and worried.

    I may be able to get a lawyer...a number of my friends graduated from law school ahead of me and maybe one can help me out. I could do it if they waited a couple of more months!

    We got our first chicks in a rescue situation, a friend needed to rehome them fast, and at that time I didn't read the language but I called city hall, which said they were not allowed. Later, being the good law student that I am, I decided to do a little research, and here's the actual wording I found which made me feel comfortable that, as worded, the ordinance DID NOT forbid us to have chickens as pets, and subsequently we got more chickens (you all know how that goes). We're in a suburban area.

    Gulfport ordinance:
    Sec. 5-12.1. Keeping poultry, livestock.
    It shall be unlawful to own, keep, or maintain any poultry as defined by Florida Statutes, Section 583.01 or livestock, as defined by Florida Statutes, Section 588.13 within the City of Gulfport.
    (Ord. No. 73-30, ยง 2, 12-18-73)

    And here's the definition from Fl. Stat. 583.01:
    (19) "Poultry" means all kinds of poultry and includes chickens, turkeys, ducks, guineas, geese, pigeons raised as domesticated food birds, quail, and other domesticated food birds.

    (italics mine to indicate my strongest argument) (also, other Gulfport ordinances prohibit slaughteriing in city limits, and the definition of livestock is any grazing animal, with no "raised as" indication to possibly distinguish pets from products, and finally there is one old Fl. Supreme Court case which refers to "dogs, cats and other household pets" which might help me distinguish between pets and products.)

    We are NOT raising these chickens as domesticated food birds, they are pets. Other definitions for "live poultry" and "dressed poultry" indicated that the statutes are referring to poultry meat for consumption.

    Still...a judge is most likely not going to take me seriously, in which case we might have to appeal. Maybe by then I would be a lawyer myself (taking the bar in July). Or I might still have friends who need pro bono hours [​IMG] I'm also going to approach the city commission and see about making Gulfport a chicken FRIENDLY place. It really does fit with the local image of Gulfport, kind of artsy and eclectic, liberal, etc., so with that, the economy crashing, and people trying to be more sustainable all the time, maybe we would have some luck. I can hope, right?

    If anyone has any other suggestions or thoughts, I'd really appreciate them!
     

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