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Do Richmond's Backyard Chickens Rule the Roost? Not So Much

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Richmond residents aren't exactly, uh, flocking to keep backyard chickens after City Council legalized them last April.

After a comprehensive study and more than a year of consideration, council voted to allow residents to keep up to four of the birds under certain conditions. A year later, the city has issued a total of 41 permits.

The backyard chicken issue was hotly debated. Officials settled on allowing hens — no roosters — at an annual cost of $60 per permit with a site inspection by city staff.

The local ordinance ended up having statewide implications after City Council sought to remove a mandate in state law that requires authorities to kill dogs caught in the act of attacking chickens — or proven to be repeat offenders. The General Assembly approved a compromise measure that allows officers to choose whether to shoot such dogs.

A city spokeswoman says the city recently issued its first chicken permit renewal.

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