White Settlement woman fights to keep backyard chickens - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

White Settlement woman fights to keep backyard chickens

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A White Settlement woman is fighting city hall for the right to keep her backyard chickens.

She says they are therapy animals for her daughter, but the city says they're a code violation.

The city recently demolished a house next door to the home, and during that process, one of the workers heard a rooster crowing. Lea Wiltfong says her fight with the city has been going on ever since.

The six chickens each have a name, and Lea says they provide valuable therapy for her 10-year-old daughter Nicole, who has physical and mental disabilities.

"They crow louder than the alarm clock," said Nicole. "They're fun to play with and they got nice unique colors."

Nicole's condition causes her to walk on her toes.

"And by chasing the chickens around, she has to get a better center of gravity and put her feet down, and so it helps her to work those muscles out," said Lea.

Nicole also has challenges adapting to social situations at school.

"They [the chickens] give her a starting point in conversation and something positive to interact with her classmates about," said Lea.

The chickens are closed off from the dogs and put away at night, and their waste is composted.

Some neighbors don't seem to mind.

"I have no problem with them; the chickens don't bother me," said Thelma Crawford, who lives next door. "The only time I even hear ‘em is if I'm leaving or if I open my back door."

But the city has given the family until Saturday to get rid of the chickens.

A city ordinance for chickens and fowl states, "The keeping or maintaining of any chickens cannot be within 50 feet of an occupied building."

The chickens are well within that boundary.

The city manager, Linda Ryan, said that she has tried to find a solution to help the family keep its chickens.

"We have contacted the health department and the ADA division of the U.S. Justice Department to see if there is any way we could give her a variance for her chickens," said Ryan. "We understand her concerns, but she does need to be in compliance with our city ordinance."

Crawford did say that she would appreciate a limit on the number of chickens that could be at the house, and that's something Lea says she would agree to.

"It would be nice on a federal level for them to recognize animals other than dogs and miniature horses, because those aren't the only animals that provide assistance," said Lea.

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