If you look up Cape’s city ordinances, you will find a section titled “Animals.” Under that section are three articles. Article I covers health codes, livestock, abuse, neglect and various other issues. Article II covers dogs and cats. Article III covers adoption of animals from shelters.
I went over Article I with a fine-toothed comb, trying to ascertain the legality of procuring a small flock of backyard chickens. What I found were several ordinances discussing cleanliness, keeping animals confined to the property, etc. The upshot: You can have pretty much anything you want, as long as you take care of it and don’t let it bug the neighbors or turn into a public health hazard.
Perfect — just the kind of common-sense legislation I’d expect to find in a Southeast Missouri town surrounded by farms and populated by libertarian-leaning, salt-of-the-earth conservatives who believe every American has the God-given right to pack heat and smoke weed.
Apparently the libertarians aren’t on the city council, because buried deep in Article II (which, again, is titled “DOGS AND CATS”) is an ordinance listing all the animals you aren’t allowed to keep in city limits.
Chickens, ducks, geese, peacocks and guineas are on that list.
I’m not really inclined to take orders from people who can’t distinguish between a cat and a peacock.
I don’t think I’ll have to.
Code enforcement inspectors tend to be reactive, not proactive. They don’t inspect unless somebody complains. And I have four good reasons to believe my neighbors won’t complain:
1. They aren’t jerks. This is key. I’ve met my neighbors, and they’re all nice people. We wave, exchange pleasantries, maybe pet each other’s dogs, and then we go inside and mind our own business, the way God intended.
2. Six-foot privacy fence. Clucking? What clucking? I don’t hear anything. Maybe my collie has the hiccups.
3. Bribery. Could y’all use some fresh eggs? Here, have some homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers. These are not the droids you are looking for.
4. Loopholes. If I am wrong, and one of my neighbors turns out to be a jerk, I’ll find out soon enough. But before you pick up that phone, here’s a fun trivia fact:
The city expressly forbids keeping chickens in town, but you know what’s not on the list of banned species? Emus. Emus are perfectly legal.