Area family fighting to keep their pet hens - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

COPPERAS COVE

Area family fighting to keep their pet hens

COPPERAS COVE, TX (KXXV) - One Copperas Cove family is fighting to keep their pet hens after the city told them they had to get rid of the hens because of a zoning violation.

The city says under their animal control ordinance, it's against the law to have the birds in a residential area. They also say the hens are considered agricultural animals even though they aren't being used for commercial purposes.

It all started back in February when Shane Rawlings and his family received a notice from the city saying they had to get rid of five hens they adopted almost a year and a half ago.

“When I tried to get a little more information out of it, he cited a zoning issue rather than an animal control issue,” Rawlings said. “It was just that, though chickens are birds, they're considered livestock."

Rawlings says that he first became interested in the birds after he returned from deployment in Afghanistan, even building his own coop to house the hens.

"I was kind of looking for a project to maybe decompress a little, and also my dad in Mississippi has chickens,” Rawlings said. “So, he talked to me about how they're kind of fun, and they're relaxing to watch."

The Rawlings say the hens are nothing more than pets. They said they eliminate a lot insects and pests, and they even lay eggs. They also say they don't understand why the city now wants to step in and get rid of what they consider to be members of the family.

"To me, it's very frustrating because the chickens don't bother anybody,” Chelsea Rawlings said. “There were no complaints. We were told it wasn't because anybody complained about us having chickens, they just noticed we had them. So, we had them for a long time before they noticed it. It's like, if there wasn't an issue with it, why tell us we have to get rid of them?"

Last week, Rawlings went before the Copperas Cove City Council to fight the zoning ordinance, and, so far, he's received support not only from his neighbors, but hundreds of others as well through both an online petition, and Facebook page.

"Really, we're just trying to raise as much awareness and get support here,” Rawlings said. “The city has been receptive on hearing us, but it's not exactly a quick process, and I feel like the more support we get, the faster the process will become."

According to the city spokesman, the city manager will be presenting a moratorium to the council on April 1st. That's where they'll decide whether or not to approve a workshop to review the ordinance and whether any changes will be made.
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