By Callie Hietala
A Martinsville woman earlier this month was found guilty in Martinsville General District Court of one charge of keeping poultry and one charge of keeping livestock and poultry. The latter charge is being appealed to the Martinsville Circuit Court.
Online court records indicate that Amanda Lynn Davis was charged with the class 1 misdemeanors in February and found guilty in general district court on April 4.
Davis was charged a $45 fine and $101 in court costs and was sentenced to 6 months with 5 months and 28 days suspended.
Her appeal to the circuit court is scheduled for Tuesday, April 19.
The charges stem from section 5-18 of the Martinsville City Code which states that “It shall be unlawful for any person to keep within the city any horse, mule, cow, donkey, chicken, turkey, duck, or other like animal classified as livestock or fowl.”
Officer Jayme Clark, of Martinsville Animal Control, said he filed the charges against Davis.
“It is totally prohibited to have any kind of livestock in the city of Martinsville,” he explained. “A lot of that is because it’s more of an urban setting and there are hygiene issues when we talk about chickens and ducks and things like that. That’s the reason, I believe, that those laws are on the books.”
Clark said Davis had several chickens, several ducks, and a guinea and was notified in December of last year by a patrolman that she was prohibited from keeping the animals in the city.
He said his office responded to a later complaint from a neighbor who said the chickens were coming into their yard. “We made contact with her husband on a Tuesday (Davis, because of her work schedule, was asleep), he was informed the chickens needed to be gone” by Thursday of that same week.
“I went back two days later, they were still there, therefore she was cited for still having those chickens.”
Clark said that, that same day, the couple told him the animals would be gone by 9 p.m. that evening, but over that weekend, officers received multiple calls from neighbors complaining that the chickens were still present and roaming free in their yards.
That Monday morning, Clark returned, and the chickens were still on the property, thus resulting in the second charge.
According to court records, the dates of the offenses were Feb. 10 and 14, 2022.
Clark said that Davis testified in court and told him during his investigation that the animals were being kept as pets. He confirmed that Davis ultimately removed the chickens from her property.
Clark said Davis was not the first case of illegally keeping poultry and likely would not be the last. In fact, he said, since Davis was charged, “she has actually called in several other people that she has seen that may have had a duck or a chicken” in the south side area of the city, all of whom have been charged accordingly.
“I took this role over a year and a half ago and I have the mindset that education is key. I’d rather educate than have to send somebody to court in reference to these kinds of things.”
Clark said that, given that stores like Rural King have live chicks for sale at low costs, people often purchase one and bring it home without educating themselves on local ordinances.
Anyone with questions about the city’s animal laws may contact the Martinsville Animal Control Department at (276) 403-5309.