There is a growing movement for the return of some freedoms right now.  One in particular is the return of chicken ownership within city limits.  Cities should allow responsible chicken ownership and any of the issues that may arise with chicken ownership are already addressed by existing law.  Earlier this year I had to get rid of my chickens to avoid a citation from West Valley City.

In West Valley there is an ordinance in the mix to allow for back yard chickens which has not been finalized or passed.  Some of the concerns with the proposed ordinance are that West Valley is no longer Agrarian, chicken ownership is just a fad that will leave bigger problems if they allow it now, bird flu, or just the noise, mess, and sanitation concerns with chickens.  This is a bit silly and shows a blatant distrust of the citizens of West Valley to live responsibly.

If West Valley City is concerned about not being metropolitan enough here are a few things to consider.  New York City allows for the keeping of chickens and rabbits but no roosters.  Chicago allows for chicken ownership but over a year ago considered banning chicken ownership before postponing any votes on the bill under pressure from the mayor.  Portland, Oregon allows for ownership of three or less chickens, rabbits, or pygmy goats without a permit from the city.  Seattle, Washington also allows for up to three chickens without restrictions.  There are many cities larger than West Valley City that allow for ownership of chickens and there is no concern that they are backwater agrarian areas.

People in West Valley are probably familiar with Winder Farms with locally produced dairy and eggs.  Brock’s produce brings in corn, tomatoes, peas, and other vegetables grown in West Valley as well.  People have their own backyard gardens and fruit trees and preserve fruit and jams each year.  There are horse properties and farms in West Valley.  Back yard chickens are no big deal to add to the mix.

If there are concerns about the noise, mess, or hassle of chickens these concerns can be handled by existing laws without maintaining a chicken ban.  There are laws about cleanliness, nuisance, and noise issues.  The residents who have difficulties maintaining their properties in a clean and sanitary manner will have difficulties whether they have chickens or not.

Chickens are less of a hassle than dogs.  Dogs bark and bite people.  Some people own too many cats and let their houses become over run with the pet dander and mess.  Some people are irresponsible or incapable and do not take care of their pets or their properties but we still allow for dog, cat, and property ownership in the city.  Chickens should not be treated any differently than any other animal.

Bird flu is a very small risk to humans.  You are more at risk of being killed by lightning or a shark attack than you are of the bird flu.

City leaders should allow the people to be grown ups and have grown up responsibilities.  If the people do not measure up to the standards of cleanliness, noise, or animal control they can be cited or given an opportunity to remedy the problem.  A few people not taking care of their animals or property does not justify an outright ban on chicken ownership.  City leaders should not pretend to be our parents counseling us about the wisdom of chicken ownership as if they know what is best for us.

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