Growing number of Calgary residents registering chickens as support animals

Nikki Pike’s chickens comfort her like nothing else can.

The Calgary resident successfully pushed city council to approve her proposal to register chickens as emotional support animals three months ago.

Now other Calgary residents are doing the same. The city has received four applications since councillors approved the proposal, according to the Calgary Herald.

Two of the recent applications have been approved, one has been denied and the last one is still pending.

Pike told the Calgary Herald that she is happy the city has acknowledged that not all support animals “come in the same shape or size.”

“Not many people have a relationship with chickens beyond their dinner plate, but they always follow you around the yard and they want to sit in your lap,” she said.

Pike, who has a chicken coop in her backyard, successfully registered her three hens — Nugget, Nibble and Noodle. She says the animals help her deal with depression and anxiety.

The city investigated Pike’s backyard chicken coop in 2017 after someone complained about it. Worried she was going to lose her feathered friends, Pike called for city council to make changes to its bylaws to allow farm animals when they are emotional support animals.

Last year, the city passed amendments to its Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw to allow residents to keep a “livestock emotional support animal” on their property once they obtain an application permit. The city launched its new program in March, which sets out what residents must do to apply to register their pets as emotional support animals.

One of the requirements to apply for such a permit is a letter from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, stating the livestock is required as part of treating a mental health condition.

Applicants must also submit the contact information of a licensed veterinarian that can provide specialized care for the animals. The city also must be satisfied that the animal has adequate space.