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University Park resident Dominique Miller received a "complaint warning" from the city's animal control office for owning several small hens, so she is asking the city council to amend an ordinance preventing her from keeping the animals as pets in her backyard.

After hearing arguments from Miller, a chicken breeder, and two residents who support owning hens as backyard pets, the University Park City Council chose to postpone its vote about whether to allow citizens to keep fowl at their homes during its bimonthly meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

According to the city's code of ordinances, "A person commits an offense if he possesses, keeps, or harbors a chicken, rooster, chick, turkey, duck, duckling, pigeon, or any other fowl within the city."

Miller, who was unaware there was an ordinance before receiving an official warning, said there are many positive aspects to owning a chicken as a pet, including they are quieter animals than dogs, and raising a chicken can be a beneficial experience for children.

"These chickens are not in my mind livestock," Miller said. "They're very different. They're very personable. They're very friendly. They're actually very bright in the sense that they will learn habits, and they will learn routines."

Dan Probst, who breeds chickens and other types of poultry in Poetry, Texas, was asked by Miller to speak to the council at the meeting as a key expert and provide facts about owning chickens.

"The demographics of people who have backyard chickens, they traverse all races, creeds and multi-age groups in this county," Probst said. "The Dallas-Fort Worth area happens to be one of the more prominent areas with backyard poultry being popular among many, many other cities, including most major cities in the country."

Probst said four-square feet of space is required per chicken to raise the animals in a humane and sanitary fashion.

Probst said chickens are not "smelly" because of their small size, which allows them to dispose of less waste, and they are not likely to be a "nuisance" by hopping over fences or interacting negatively with other pets, such as cats and dogs.

"They are very quiet animals that want to live a very quiet and reserved life and lay a few eggs," Probst said.

Also, Prost said the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies the handling of a chicken exactly the same as a dog or cat in respect to the bacteria it may carry, which means there are no additional health risks posed by chickens than other types of commonly domesticated animals.

After Probst finished his presentation, two University Park residents addressed the council in support of an amendment allowing members of the community to own backyard chickens.

Tom Blackwell, a University Park resident, said he supports owning chickens as pets but there should be restrictions on selling eggs or poultry products from residential homes.

"I think it would be good to include in the ordinance a prohibition on the commercial uses (of owning chickens)," Blackwell said.

Cindy Smith, a University Park resident, said she supports a change to the current ordinance because owning chickens as pets is becoming increasingly popular, but there are not many people in University Park who desire to own the animal, so this is not an amendment that is likely to cause many problems.

"I hope you guys know that this is the wave of the future," Smith said. "People, they want to eat local. They want organic. It's coming whether we want it or not — we're going to have hens in our backyard."

In addition to the residents who spoke at the meeting in support of owning chickens, Miller provided the city council with about 50 emails from other Park Cities and Dallas citizens that approve of an amendment to the current ordinance.

After hearing the arguments in support of owning chickens, the city council decided to delay its vote about the matter until a committee can study the request more in depth, and a final vote to amend the ordinance will occur at a future council meeting.