Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Official! Backyard Chickens are Pets!

In the famous Oscar-winning Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street, attorney Fred Gailey proves Kris Kringle is Santa Claus because the Post Office is delivering mail to him. If a professional, recognized, competent entity such as the Postal Service thought Kris was Santa Claus, the burden of proving he wasn't dramatically shifted. 

Now, in a comparable revelation, a professional, recognized, competent entity, PETSMART is selling chicken coops. Why is this significant? Because the retail supplier is not called FARMANIMALSMART or LIVESTOCKSMART--  it's PETSMART

And if PETSMART sells it, it is a pet-related product. And if PETSMART is selling chicken coops, then chickens, ipso facto, are pets.

This finding by American commerce (over 1,200 stores nationwide and over $6 Billion in sales) contradicts the position maintained by many municipalities that continue to inappropriately confuse pets with farming operations.

Farms are commercial agricultural operations that sell a significant portion of what they produce (they can't qualify for agricultural tax rates otherwise). Pets are animals kept by people whether or not they have any commercial utility. So the difference is not based on the species of animals, but the scale of the operation and the primary role of the animal.

Large-scale commercial animal-raising operations are always farming (even if we don't think of puppy mills as farms) and small-scale, non-commercial, animal-keeping situations are always about pets.

Because most backyard chickens ordinances (such as the City of Sarasota's) keep the number of hens in single digits, and prohibit both sale and slaughter, backyard chicken owners are clearly keeping pets.

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