Port St. Lucie city council decides against backyard chickens

They must roost somewhere else

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - It began with Pretty Boy, Brenda Richardson's favorite girl among her backyard flock of egg-laying hens.

When animal control officers in Port St. Lucie got a complaint, they told Richardson to get rid of the chickens.

She instead formed Port St. Lucie C.L.U.C.K. or Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping.

The group made T-shirts and collected signatures on petitions, asking the city council to change its animal ordinance.

"50 years ago, who would have thought of having reptiles, rodents, tropical birds, ferrets, skunks, chinchillas and hedgehogs as common household pets but they are," says Michelle Peterson, one of the group's supporters.

C.L.U.C.K.'s appeal got nationwide attention at a time when other cities are considering similar backyard chicken ordinances.

The group has its opponents.

Arlene Brown calls herself a "nimby", short for "not in my backyard."

"I think that if you want to have chickens, we ought to have chickens," says Brown.  "But you should have them in an area that's conducive to chickens which is not an 80 by 125 lot in the city of Port St. Lucie."

The city council agreed, voting not to change the current animal ordinance.

That means chickens won't be allowed to roost in Port St. Lucie backyards.

But Brenda Richardson is one mother hen who won't be cooped up,

She says she'll keep fighting for her girls.

"All we're trying to do is feed ourselves," says Richardson.  "And that's not a crime in this country or any part of the world that I know."

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