Emilee Drayer, 9, recently holds a fresh egg, produced by chickens that live in her backyard in Port Charlotte.

PORT CHARLOTTE — An advocacy group called Charlotte CLUCK went to the Charlotte County Board of Commissioners meeting this week. They went to urge commissioners not to follow through with enacting code violations on pet chickens at neighbors’ homes.

“We have our routine every morning: Come out, feed them, give them water before we go to work. Come home, check for eggs.” said Melissa Aniskewicz, founder of Charlotte CLUCK. “They’re pretty spoiled.”

For Aniskewicz, the chickens are more than farm animals, they are family. That’s why she and her family are against the code violation that won’t allow chickens on single-family lots in the county.

“Under the residential zone, it says you can keep pets,” Aniskewicz said. ”And there’s no definition of a pet, and chickens fall under a pet. So I thought we’d be OK, and we weren’t.”

Aniskewicz and her family are not done standing up to the code violation. She founded Charlotte CLUCK as a way to organize against the claimed code violation.

“Why do we have to get rid of our chickens? They’re pets too, just like our dogs,” Aniskewicz said. “Do we have to get rid of them next?”

Andrew Nix is a member of Charlotte CLUCK. He doesn’t see any difference between keeping other birds at home, compared to chickens, so that should result in a violation for them.

“You can have a parrot; you can have a parakeet; you can have any other bird,” Nix said. “Why can’t you have a chicken?”

While commissioners have concerns about safety and sanitation, they acknowledged the arguments members of Charlotte CLUCK presented to them at the public meeting Tuesday.

What commissioners said...

“I think it’s worthy of a workshop to have further discussion,” said Charlotte County Commissioner Joe Tiseo. “See if it’s something that will work here in Charlotte County.”

Commissioners agreed Tuesday they need a workshop on the question of whether to adopt a pet chicken ordinance.

Commissioner Bill Truex said: “Chickens aren’t nearly as offensive as hogs... But what I would ask you all to consider is the effect in certain areas where we have coyotes and how to protect domestic animals.”

Tiseo discussed neighboring counties that allow chickens: “Some of the highlights from those counties are pretty interesting...There’s a lot there that works. It’s been in effect and I don’t think the sky is falling...You can have four, five, six dogs as long as they’re being treated properly...They (dogs) are very loud and they can tear up yards. With chickens, the yards looked pristine.”

Commissioner Stephen R. Deutsch said: “I always thought a domestic pet was something you kept in your house...I have been told that they carry disease, that they’re dirty, that they’re noisy...If you folks have an affection or a desire to have chickens, I have no problem with that.”

Deutsch added that there will be some people that “maybe live next door to you that won’t be real happy with you having chickens.”

He said commissioners have to take a look at the whole picture and “make a decision that makes sense and is fair to everyone.”

WINK News and Sun Staff Writer Betsy Calvert contributed to this report.


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