By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Debbie Eddy and her husband Jerry wanted to take some ducks home to raise and enjoy last April: they wanted to adopt. At a local farm outlet in town, they ran across four darling ducklings and two wee turkey-poults. But this story is a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of doing something similar this Easter time of year.
“They were as cute as could be,” Eddy said. “So, I asked the store about the rules when it comes to raising small birds or chickens. They said ‘Well, chickens were fine to raise at home, but not a rooster’ — way too much cock-a-doodling and noise for neighbors.”
Unfortunately, for Eddy, they didn’t share the city-rules on raising ducklings, or turkeys–until a knock at her door and a uniformed animal control person came looking for feathers and contraband.
“We had them for a full year, so I have to say we were like parents to them.” Eddy said the officer was respectful but firm: someone had made the complaint, and since the Eddy’s weren’t living in the right zone for the birds – they would have to remove them immediately.
According to Eddy, the penalty for concealing or keeping such birds at home is a $500 fine. It was a painful day, said Eddy, who now looks out on a backyard with a chicken coop and the six remaining chickens that weren’t considered serious ‘offenders.’
“I have to tell you I cried that day. And the next. We just didn’t expect it and I was so upset.”
Eddy said her little flock of birds was promptly locked up in the back of the control wagon and away they went. But Eddy couldn’t let her feelings go.
“I visited the animal shelter, where they were being ‘held’ and they politely explained that they just had no choice but to enforce the city’s regulations when it comes to ducks, (or turkeys)” recalls Eddy. “It didn’t matter that I raised them, that they were like little feathery children to me, and I had put my whole heart into their care.”
They couldn’t be released, returned or bailed out. That didn’t stop Eddy from pressing her point with officials and confronting the local feed stores in town.
“I went back to where I had purchased them and asked them to at least post a sign or warning about bird-confiscations, but the manager wasn’t concerned. ‘It’s really your responsibility as a customer to be aware of the rules, and to look into those things,’” said Eddy of the pitiless attitude.
In short, they couldn’t care less.
Eddy also visited the IFA Country Store and asked about their policies when it came to purchasing ducklings and turkeys.
“The manager there, Eric, was very kind about it and he agreed that his customers should be warned about the city, and small duck regulations. I appreciated his response, that the store would begin posting signs, so other people can avoid this kind of emotional shock.”
In the meantime, Eddy visited the Cedar City Shelter where her ‘little ones,’ now fully grown and innocent, were being kept. “I stopped there just about every day,” said Eddy of the experience. “There was an officer that went through the regulations that they are expected to enforce, and I was encouraged that they would be able to find them another home outside of city-limits.”
While Eddy explains that she had not heard about the rules relating to ducklings and turkey-poults, she is adamant that every store manager should post or explain the rules of the “game” for families and parents who are deciding to purchase small birds – especially around Easter.
“At the shelter, I would see them outside with just a tiny little doghouse to get inside from the cold,” said Eddy, “And it about broke my heart – So I asked them, ‘what will you do with them in the frigid temperatures, if it rains or snows?’ Where would they find some shelter and protection?”
Eddy said she was crying and upset to know that the little doghouse would be the only space for her ducks and the two mostly grown turkeys to fit into. “It didn’t seem that humane to me, as these were more than just ducks or birds,” she said.
Their interest in foster-care would never be the same.
While Eddy brought a small child-size swimming pool into the holding area at the shelter, there was not a day that she didn’t check back to see how they were doing and if they had found the ‘good home’ that the officer had convinced her would come. In the meantime, Eddy tried to find them a home with a local friend. She called on neighbors for support and reported her story to Iron County Today. She is still mostly perplexed on who would have complained about her feathered ones.
“We just got some news from the shelter that someone from St. George stopped in to ‘adopt’ our sweet birds, and to give them a second chance,” said Eddy, who still cares for six chickens at her home. “Unfortunately, we don’t know where they are exactly. They don’t give you an address to see them, or to find out how they are doing.”
Caption: Jerry and Debbie Eddy of Cedar City, who purchased four ducklings and two turkey-poults a year ago that they nurtured and cared for as part of their family, had them confiscated. She hopes local store outlets will post the rules and regulations for small birds, so other families in Cedar City will not have to experience the same ordeal in the future.