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Chickens in the city of Shelbyville are not considered "domestic pets."
Shelbyville City Council amended an existing ordinance Thursday relating to the keeping of animals in the city limits to define better which animals are considered "domestic pets."
That more specific list includes domestic dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla, hamster, gerbil and ferret. The proposed list originally included mouse, rat and reptile, but the council decided to scratch those from the list.
Chickens were never on it.
A month ago Ginny Soto approached the council to discuss city ordinance No. 2003-07-17(A) in regards to regulating animals in the city limits.
A letter sent from Shelbyville Code Enforcement to Soto in June revealed that an inspection made June 16 found a violation of the ordinance. Code enforcement had been contacted because of animal noise.
The violation was in regards to Soto's pet chickens. The ordinance states that any non-domestic animal may not be kept in the city unless in certain conditions - it is housed in a clean pen, located a minimum 100 feet from the property line.
"It's not like living in the country. We live in a denser populated area, and we have to pass laws that affect large numbers of population in a small area," Mayor Tom Hardesty said. "We do have some large lots in the community, and that'd be OK, but here when you have 50 by 100 foot lots in the city and you put a pin next to the property line, your neighbor's house could be 10 feet away."
After receiving her letter Soto came before the council to point out that in her research of local ordinance she found that domestic animals were not clearly defined in the first place.
Following Soto's session, Mayor Tom Hardesty advised with code enforcement, local police, and the city attorney Frank Chuppe about the ordinance, and together they agreed that the law should be clearer.
"We decided we'd better define domestic animals," Hardesty said.
Chickens did not make the list, although Hardesty admitted they're not the biggest problem.
"Chickens are not really the problem. It's roosters. They do all the crowing," he said.
Even so, having chickens running around wildly with close neighbors could be a noise and health hazard, he said.
"A few years ago people in the community were raising fighting chickens or slaughtering them on their property," he said.
The second reading on the ordinance is scheduled for Aug. 20.