SELINSGROVE — Seventeen-year-old Emma Shea is petitioning to keep pet chickens in her backyard after running afoul with a Penn Township ordinance.
Eight months ago, Shea, a homeschooled animal lover, purchased five baby chicks through the mail after doing research on the birds and whether there were any local laws barring them from the residential neighborhood where she lives with her father, Gregory Shea.
She built a pen and fence in the backyard of their Woodlynn Drive property where she raised the birds, along with two ducks she later purchased at a farm supply store.
“She’s always creating things and she did all the research herself,” said the elder Shea.
Emma Shea admits to overlooking the Penn Township ordinance that prohibits livestock in residential neighborhoods.
It turns out a rooster she named Dancy was among the three-day-old birds she purchased and that’s where the trouble began.
Gregory Shea said he was annoyed by the 6 a.m. crowing, but said his daughter purchased a crow collar to reduce the noise. It wasn’t enough to stop at least one neighbor from complaining to township officials.
“The neighbors don’t appreciate the rooster,” said township Manager Julie Hartley who sent the family a letter in late August informing them of the ordinance and giving them 30 days to remove the animals or seek a variance.
Emma Shea said she intends to try and change the law, which she said is outdated and points out that a barking dog or a lawnmower are louder than a rooster’s crowing.
She has found a new home for Dancy, but hopes to keep the other chickens, hens and ducks to which she has become attached over the past several months.
Abigail, a Lavender Orpington chicken, often falls asleep in Emma Shea’s arms and a hen named Brownie laid its first egg on Thursday.
“They all have their own personality and are absolutely, 100 percent a part of the family,” she said.
As of Thursday afternoon, Emma Shea has received 943 signatures in support of her keeping the poultry pets on an online Avaaz petition she created four days earlier.