Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Let grown-ups have chickens

Sometimes it’s useful to view the unfamiliar through a familiar lens.

So let’s talk about dogs and cats in Keizer.

Many of us adore our Fido and couldn’t live without our Fluffy. But one man’s best friend is his neighbor’s nemesis.

The barking, the canine’s mating howls and the cat’s come-hither caterwauling drive people on the other side of the fence crazy.

And that’s when they stay put. If the dog’s not in your trash, he’s running in front of your car. The fleeing feline is probably picking a fight with Fluffy – or, if you haven’t fixed her, giving her the gift that keeps on giving.

Or if you’re lucky a tomcat will mark your house as its own, leaving that new vinyl siding with that not-so-fresh feeling. Maybe Rover will leave a present that you’ll inevitably discover while mowing the lawn.

Yet anyone proposing banning our most common household pets would face a clucking cacophony, forever caricatured as the Dog Nazi, or Moammar Cathafi.

When put in the same category as these animals, allowing urban chickens makes a lot more sense.

It’s understandable that folks equate chickens with the barnyard and not the cul-de-sac, but – with common sense rules – all evidence suggests chickens simply don’t pose the problem our everyday housepets cause.

Good rules include banning roosters, limiting hens to five or less and have strict ordinances on enclosures and supervision.

We think a coop permit is a bit overboard given the proposal would only allow three hens, but it makes sense should city councilors want a rough estimate of how many hens populate our fair city. The permit requirement can always be scuttled should the numbers not justify the time and expense.

Likewise, neighbors with a foul fowl problem shouldn’t have to deal with the nuisance, and there should be a process to deal with delinquent CoopKeepers.

Yet, if a preponderance of the evidence tells us the birds just aren’t a big deal, should the government tell us we can’t have them at all?

Councilors can, if they choose, raise hypothetical problems until the cows come home.

Or they can observe that their staff research – as well as our own – shows few ruffled feathers, and just let the grownups have their chickens.

—JC