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Ottawa Bylaw tells Orleans family to rehome their backyard chickens


Ottawa Bylaw has told an Ottawa family to find a new home for their backyard chickens.

For Crystal Lurk and her family, backyard chickens are pets and a source of food.

"A lot of people in the community get eggs from us and our family gets eggs also," she told CTV News Ottawa. "We get pretty close to seven (eggs) a day."

But the chickens can no longer be kept in her suburban backyard in Orléans after a visit from Ottawa Bylaw last November.

"They came by and told us that we have to rehome them," she said.

Backyard chickens are not allowed in Ottawa.

Lurk said she wasn't surprised to see bylaw visit.

"It is upsetting, but obviously going into we knew that it could be a possibility."

She said she first was given until the spring to rehome the chickens and then an extension until the end of June. And now, the days are counting down, and the chickens have to go.

"We did receive a complaint that chickens were being illegally kept on a residential property and in the city of Ottawa, chickens and all livestock are only permitted to be kept within certain rural or agricultural zones. So it would basically be in areas zoned to keep livestock. In this case, this resident does not live in one of those zones," said Ottawa Bylaw public information officer Alison Stewart.

"We want to make sure that the chickens are rehomed properly and are taken care of. So we have been working with the resident to ensure that the proper home is found for the chickens."

The City of Ottawa says backyard chickens are not allowed for multiple reasons.

"There are noise issues, health and safety issues, and it also attract attracts predators. So we want to make sure everybody is safe and that the chickens are properly cared for. So that's why they're not permitted," said Stewart.

Where do surrendered chickens go?

Some surrendered chickens may end up at chicken sanctuaries, like Secondhand Stories Chicken Sanctuary in Rideau Lakes, just outside of Smiths Falls.

"We are a registered non-profit micro sanctuary," says co-founder Liz Wheeler. "We accept chickens that have no place else to go. So chickens that have been surrendered, chickens that have been left behind, or sadly, in some cases when chickens have been abused, they come here and they live out the rest of their natural lives."

But resources are limited, and Wheeler says they receive many requests to rehome chickens.

"We have limited capacity. We really do wish we could say yes to all of them, but the harsh reality, the awful truth is we can't accept every chicken. And so that does mean that the end of the day, chickens will be killed because there is no place for them to go."

Wheeler adds that chickens are a longer-term commitment, with financial costs and responsibility.

"Think of it like a tattoo. What are you going to do in five or 10 years? What will happen when the hen is no longer laying? Is it going to be killed just because it's not useful for food? What about the cost? In Ottawa, there are no vets that will see chickens," she says.

Lurk says she's rehoming her hens outside of the city, with family and friends.

"The kids will also miss them for sure," she says. Top Stories


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