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.”