Feathers Ruffle over Urban Farm Animals

Photo courtesy of Henry Kurland, Long Beach Honeybees.

Chickens, that is. On Thursday, June 14, my erstwhile writing partner Judy Crumpton and I attended one of two community meetings to hear about the proposed relaxation of laws regarding the keeping of farmyard animals within city limits. A number of practitioners and proponents of sustainable backyard agriculture—growing and raising your own food at your home outdoors—requested and petitioned for changes that would allow chickens, goats and bees to be kept and cared for in residential areas. The animals will provide eggs, milk and honey for personal consumption only.Saleof the products would be prohibited.

The meeting was led by the City’s sustainability coordinator, Larry Rich, accompanied by Long Beach Animal Care Services’ interim manager Ted Stevens. Rich’s position with the city involves monitoring projects that encourage sustainability and environmental protection within the environment. Information was provided to explain the present restrictions and lay out the proposed changes.

At present, up to 20 chickens may be kept at least 50 feet from one- and two-family residences; one chicken may be kept as a pet at least 20 feet from any dwelling. One goat may be kept at least 100 feet from any residence, and none may be kept south ofAnaheim Street(it wasn’t explained why; most likely some archaic city ordinance that separated the sheep from the goats). Beehives must be at least 100 feet from residences, streets and alleys and be 10 feet above the ground.

Proposed changes are as follows:

  • Up to four chickens—hens only—may be kept without required distance from neighboring residences, five to 10 at least 25 feet from residences, and 11 to 20 at least 50 feet from residences. A one-time permit from ACS is required for the chickens; roosters are prohibited.
  • Two female goats (pygmies only) may be kept in a yard, with no distance requirements. They must be licensed annually by ACS. As stated, the milk must be for personal consumption only, to avoid food-borne illnesses.
  • Up to five beehives may be kept at least five feet from a property line. A flyaway barrier with a minimum of a six-foot height must be maintained around any hive less than 15 feet from a property line, and all hives must be registered with the L.A. County Department of Agriculture.

Urban farming has taken root in several cities, including Seattle, Portland(Oregon), Santa Anaand San Diego, with Portland, according to a Portland Tribune article, being the most egg-heavy city of all of them. Long Beach’s existing urban farms are run and maintained under strict regulations and are self-contained, located at the prescribed distance from residences. There are several urban farms and individual growers operating in Long   Beach; a couple of examples are Community of Gardens on Spring Street and the Growing Experience on Via Carmelitos  (which I’ve seen, and it’s jaw dropping). Long Beach Grows, a cooperative sustainability effort established by Donna Marykwas, has as its mission the development of the sustainability community, educating the public and giving people the choice of raising their own food.

I love chickens and goats and deeply respect bees. I wouldn’t mind a responsible chicken community member living next door with the little cluckers warbling the “egg song at 9 a.m.,” as attendee Sue Steeves described it. Chickens are also famous for ridding gardens of pests and serving as waste-free garbage disposals for table scraps. Goats are adorable, playful and certain breeds yield milk under proper conditions. Henry Kurland of Long BeachHoney Bee, who is a professional beekeeper, rescuer and handler, put me at ease about bees—beekeepers have specialized experience and training. But I think that relaxing rules for farm animals may open a can of worms that might be too large for even the most ravenous of hens to take care of.

Self-sustainment has particular wisdom and seems a good way to evolve—fresh eggs in the morning, making your own goat yogurt sweetened with honey from a beehive, everything cage free and humane. I don’t think, however, that I’d be very good at it, and I know it. What I’m concerned about are the people who don’t know it—people who are going to bypass or ignore the education component offered by the city’s urban farming organization, fill a pen with fowl or grab a goat, and then surrender them to a farm at best or, at worst, abandon them when the novelty wears off. I’m not worried about bees; you just can’t pick up a hive of them at the bee store or round up a swarm by dangling a bag of pollen at it. Anyone who tries likely gets what he or she deserves.

“You have to know what you’re doing, or you’ll get in trouble,”Kurlandsaid.

My concern, and the concern of animal advocates, is with the possibility of more abandoned or mistreated animals. Rescue farms and sanctuaries regularly take in chickens and goats, especially goats, in all sorts of conditions, and my own main concern is with the goats. I worry about theft. I worry about neglect. I worry about a goat escaping and getting hit by a car. I worry about goats in the same way in which I worry about cats, dogs, rabbits and any animal.

Goats on the average cost around $400, and despite strong doubt expressed about whether someone would abandon an animal that cost that much, an online search to Petfinder.com or any rescue or shelter would show a good number of dumped purebred pets that each cost as much as a small herd of goats. Goats have a sizeable awww factor, but they act like human kids on a constant sugar rush, and they eat everything—not just food scraps, like the chickens, but everything—old paint, the mail, your pants cuffs. They need specialized vets and supervision—you can’t leave for days on a vacation and have someone come in for an hour to feed and pet them. They’re loquacious—my neighbor told me that she had one several years ago who climbed on the roof, leaned over the fence and maa-ed at the neighbors continually. They also poop continually. We have friends who live up north and have a goat named Marbles, and he didn’t get his name from his round little eyes.

“I am not opposed to goats living in residential areas, as long as the owners are educated about their care and truly have enough space for them,” said Ellen Felsenthal, founder of the New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary inArlington,Washington. “Our rescues come from a huge variety of situations, just like dogs at a shelter—from loving homes that just can’t keep them, goats that were 4-H projects that the kids outgrew, from cruelty seizures via animal control, from ‘failed’ urban farms, and a million other situations. I wouldn’t say that we get a large quantity from city people surrendering goats, but we do get a few—maybe 10 to 15 a year—that way. Some goats arrive here in excellent condition, some are literally dying. Some are thin, some are obese. Most have not had proper hoof care—more ignorance than intentional neglect; and many have lice, even from loving homes. Again, ignorance.”

Even if the entire town doesn’t go all Old MacDonald and just a few farm creatures are adopted, one mistreated animal is one too many, and that brings up another concern. ACS already has its hands full dealing with abandoned house pets, escaped and stolen dogs, feral cats, license scofflaws, backyard breeding, dog bites and reported animal abuse. Although Stevens said that he believes that the permits and license fees will help to fund some of the additional burden, I’m worried about the potential for neglect, abuse and abandonment of animals. Outdoor animals also could be an additional attractant for coyotes, despite what one of the meeting attendees snarkily said about there being enough cats running around to take care of that.

Despite the ban on bucks—male goats—there was quite a bit of head butting at the community meeting. Judy and I were pretty vocal about our concerns, and it got contentious. Only after the bees buzzing in my belly subsided a few days later was I able to realize that we have two separate camps equally impassioned over what we each believe and that both sides and anything in between are entitled to an opinion. Here’s hoping that productive discussion can be engaged in without getting one another’s goat.

On Tuesday, June 26, at 4 p.m. in the Council Chambers, the Environmental Committee — Council members James Johnson, Suja Lowenthal, and Patrick O’Donnell — will meet to discuss and recommend the proposed changes for approval.


Bill Grogan’s goat

Was feeling fine

Ate three red shirts

Right off the line.

– Traditional folk/camp song

Virtually Pets

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Buster                       Roger

 Buster                                                                               Roger

Rabbit Lady’s Long-Eared Buddies

Every now and then, we have to interrupt our regular programming because something has come up. The story of Judy Griffith, our Rodent Lady (who also rescues rabbits) will be featured in the next Pet Post. As a prelude, here are the rabbits available for adoption at Animal Care Services, shelter side, at the Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, (562) 570-PETS. Only two have names; the others can be identified by their kennel numbers, adopted, taken home, and given new names!

Adoptions at New Petco Unleashed

The grand opening at Petco Unleashed included animal adoptions from West Coast Animal Rescue and its local subsidiary, Sparky and the Gang. Kitty (she’s a dog!) poses with her new family, moms Charlotte Wilson and Catherine Roodzant and her new brother, Clyde. Don’t worry, there’s one for you—meet them all here.

It was the dog’s dinner at Unleashed—or maybe just dessert. Scruffy, Cooper and Köchel get their just desserts, Sweet Spots doggie yogurt sundaes, as their moms, jazz pianist Lindsey Hundley and Gabi Yanuzzi, look fondly on.

Pet Projects

Coyote Warning

This warning will run as long as we see cats at large on the street. Coyotes are becoming increasingly bold, even in the daytime, and we urge everyone to keep pets indoors. Click on the link to read the particulars and get tips on protecting yourself and your family from predatory urban wildlife. Sadly, when wildlife are displaced and become urban, they go to any lengths to get their dinners, which results in tragedy for us and our pets.

Judy Crumpton’s Animal News in the Ninth! Summer Tips for Your Pet

My erstwhile co-writer is getting the word out about animal care to the Ninth District readers (even if you don’t live there, you can read it, of course!). This column, in Councilmember Neal’s newsletter, is part one of summer tips for pets, which saves me the trouble of writing them! Click here to read.

9 Lives for $9!

Boy, do we have a deal for you! During the summer months, for a limited time only, you can adopt an adult cat for $9. This program, sponsored by FoundAnimals.org, offers the low fee of $9 to adopt one of the many adult cats in shelters in Long Beach, the city of Los Angeles, and L.A.County. All of the cats have been altered, vaccinated and microchipped and may be seen on the program’s website. Ted Stevens, Long Beach Animal Care Services acting manager, said that this program will help the adoption rates of adult cats at the shelters and further lower the euthanasia rates. Kittens get homes faster than cats do because of the cuteness factor; with an adult cat, however, you know what you’re getting and won’t have as much of a chance of dealing with the difficult stage. Click the link above and chose your new BFF! (The full adoption process will be adhered to with this program.)

LaunderPet’s Pet Model Contest! Through July 14


Does your pet have what it takes to be LaunderPet’s next pet model? LaunderPet is searching for a star-power pooch or a feature-worthy feline to be the star of a new ad campaign. The winner will receive a $350 prize package that includes a $300 photo shoot by Russ Hoover and a $50 LaunderPet gift certificate! The new star will be announced on July 16 and will have his or her furry little face featured in local newspapers, social media, websites and a poster at LaunderPet’s local stores.


To enter, “Like” LaunderPet’s Facebook page, upload a photo of your dog or cat to LaunderPet’s Facebook wall, use the Caption space to say why you love LaunderPet, and Share with your friends and family so they can vote for your pet by liking/commenting on your pet’s photo. The winner will be determined by the number of likes and/or comments on each photo.

Second Annual SoCal Pignic, Sunday, July 15, Irvine Animal Care Center, 6443 Oak Canyon, Irvine, 92618, noon–4

Orange County Cavy Haven http://cavyhaven.org/, a non-profit 501(c)(3) guinea pig rescue, is sponsoring a fun time for all the cavy ravers (cavy is the actual term for these little guys, derived from the species name Cavia porcellus). Cavy Haven has been rescuing and rehoming guinea pigs since 2003 and educating people about the need for rescuing abandoned guinea pigs and ongoing care through community outreach and events. The So Cal Pignic is Cavy Haven’s major annual fun-for-the-family fund-raiser, which includes food from sponsors such as zPizza, Phoney Baloney’s and Snopel’s Bakery; health talks, including a talk from exotic-animal vet Dr. Sari Kanfer; raffles and a silent auction; and contests that include a costume contest and a veggie-eating contest for all cavies who attend with their human families! For information, cick here.

Donate to Homeless with Dogs and Get a Free Oil Change at Orozco’s Auto Service! Throughout June

Homeless with Dogs serves the homeless community by providing food and other necessities as well as education for their pets, who are often the only friends that they have (read our article here http://www.lbpost.com/life/1309300080-homeless-with-dogs-help-us-help-them). For the month of June, when you make a minimum donation of $42 to the Homeless with Dogs organization, Orozco’s Auto Service will give you a free oil change or a $42 discount from any service or repair done at Orozco’s Auto Service to Homeless with Dogs. Orozco’s two locations are at 3033 Long Beach Blvd. and 3619 Atlantic Ave., both in Long Beach. You can donate through the mail or at the following PayPal address: [email protected].

Donations Needed for Animal Care Services, Pitchford Animal Companion Village, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, (562) 570-PETS

ACS thanks everyone who provided donations for their wish list! There have been multiple donations, the list has been weeded further, and the items listed below are still needed. If you’re getting new stuff around the house and want to get rid of some old stuff, or if you know someone with any of the following items, or if you’re just feeling generous, please bring some of these things down (and take home a pet, if you are so inclined!).

    • Two canopies for the play yards (10′ x 10′)
    • Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls. See examples here.
    • Plastic aprons for grooming so we don’t get soaked when bathing Saint Bernards (true story, check out Bear on our FB page—we bathed him!)
    • Hand sanitizers to carry in apron pockets (about 20)
    • Two trash cans for our play yards that open with a foot press. See an example here.
    • Two toy containers for the dog play yard (plastic bins that can be sealed when the sprinklers go on at night)

Low Cost Vaccine and Microchip Clinic, Saturday, June 30, Pitchford Companion Animal Village Auditorium, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, 10 a.m.–2p.m.

Keep your pets safe and healthy by having them vaccinated and microchipped. Prices are as follows:

    • Microchips: $25 (does not include registration)
    • Rabies: $5
    • Bordetella: $10
    • DHPP: $15
    • FVRCP: $15
    • Leukemia: $15
    • Deworming: $25 

Pet Fostering Classes, Saturday, July 7, Pitchford Companion Animal Village Auditorium, 7700 E. Spring St., Long   Beach, 10 a.m.–noon

Foster pets need temporary loving homes, and you can help pets better their chance at adoption! SpcaLA is looking for foster parents for pets of all ages and needs. Potential foster parents must fill out and submit an application prior to attending a foster class. Application available here.

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Kate Karp is the Pets Columnist for the Long Beach Post covering the world of animal activism, pet adoptions and lots of cute cats. She’s called Long Beach home since 1994 and has written for the Post for about 10 years. Kate’s day job is as a copyeditor, which she discovered a love for during her 30-year tenure as a teacher. She describes the job as “like taking the rough edges off a beautiful sculpture.”