Town Says Family Can’t Keep Pet Chickens

Pet rooster

Thirteen-year-old Melissa Hensler has cared for her pet, Sundae, for the past six years. But the town of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania is now saying the Hensler family has to get rid of Sundae because he is a rooster.

The city’s zoning ordinance classifies chickens as livestock and said they must be on farms and not kept as pets.

Melissa has cared for Sundae and eight other chickens ever since they were born in the family’s backyard. During the day, the chickens hang out in the backyard, and at night, they are all kept in little coops.

Sundae has even won an award. He received first place for “Most Unusual Pet” in a contest co-sponsored by the town.

In July, a neighbor complained about the chickens, and the town notified the Hensler family that their chickens violated the zoning ordinance regarding farms and livestock.

“They said they got an anonymous complaint that we were raising chickens,” said Barb Hensler. “They also said chickens were not pets. Who are they to say our chickens aren’t our pets?”

The Hensler family pleaded their case last month for a special exception to be able to keep their pets. They even brought the plaque that Sundae won to show that the town did consider him to be a pet. Unfortunately, the family lost their case. City officials said Sundae’s award did not substitute for township law.

Now, the family said they will most likely hire a lawyer and take their case to court. They simply want the township to allow them to keep their chickens until they pass.

Melissa said: “If I had to get rid of them, it would be like losing a part of me.”

Source: Tribune-Review

10 Responses to “Town Says Family Can’t Keep Pet Chickens”

  1. Sharon says:

    Here’s an idea for the township. Tell the anonymous complaining neighbor to fly the coop and get outta dodge.

  2. pat says:

    i look after a small flock of chickens, and they are nice pets with distinct personalities. They are very good at insect control and they get along well with the cats… oddly enough. roosters tend to be a little noisy, which is probably why the neighbor complained. a well cared for chicken can easily live for 20 years, so i doubt that the town will grant that request easily. if there’s to be a court case, much will depend on how the word pet is defined. i think we’ll see this type of thing over and over as more and more property is zoned to facilitate development.

  3. Nancy G. says:

    It always seems to be one neighbor who complains in these cases. Must be a new neighbor, if the rooster has been there for 8 years. Isn’t there an ordinance against noisy neighbors, disturbing the peace? There should be. Yeah, there needs to be an intermediate law for the people who do keep ‘livestock’ as pets these days. These laws were written back when no one did, if you had a pig in the yard or some chickens, they WERE livestock. If it’s one such animal, or a couple, and they are clean and well cared for and not raised for food, they should let ‘em be.

  4. Cathy says:

    Would you want a rooster crowing in the early morning hours next door to you? I sure wouldn’t.

  5. Judy says:

    I don’t like dogs barking in the middle of the night either but I wouldn’t suggest the dogs should be evicted.

    Probably if they wanted to eat the chickens the neighbors wouldn’t have a problem with that.

    I guess I am just sick of hearing about someone having to get rid of a pet (no matter the species) because of a neighbor complaining. People need to be worried about important things like is my food poisened.

  6. pat says:

    i find it amazing that you can run noisy machinery from first light, or play “music” and have noisy crowds of human beings on your property until pretty late at night, but a rooster crowing generates complaints that resound in the town council chambers. ridiculous. in general, i’d rather hear a rooster crowing than listen to my idiot neighbor’s chain saw all day.

  7. Donna says:

    Keep the pet. Remove the neighbor .

  8. Board Lets Pet Chickens Stay Home to Roost | Itchmo: News For Dogs & Cats says:

    […] for our daily email digest or subscribe in a RSS reader.A recent Itchmo article told the story of a town that forced a family to give up its pet chickens despite pleas from the family claiming that the birds were pets and not farm animals. But in […]

  9. Maria N. says:

    People get a life…these are chickens. Take them to a farm and visit them. If you want to have livestock as “pets” then get a farm. Not everyone wants to have farm animals living next door to them. Be considerate of your neighbors.

  10. stephen a. says:

    im going through the same thing right now,god put chickens here for pets if you have no commercial activity with them they are definately considered pets,they are no worse than a dog or cat,this is a free country you should be able to keep livestock as pets,they shouldnt be treated no different.


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