Los Angeles' rooster menace is just about over. Starting sometime in November, only one rooster per property will be allowed in the city of Los Angeles, under an ordinance approved Tuesday by the City Council.
"We think this will make for a safer, more livable city for all of us, and hopefully will prevent some of these roosters from being involved in some very, very cruel, ugly, criminal activity," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn.
She initiated the ordinance after receiving complaints about noise, odors and health and sanitation issues posed by keeping multiple roosters on a single property.
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She was particularly concerned about roosters being kept for cockfighting, which is illegal and prosecuted as a felony.
The ordinance states: "In limiting the number of roosters on any one property, the city wishes to balance the desires of individuals to keep roosters with the rights of their neighbors to live in peace and tranquility."
People who already own several roosters will be allowed to keep up to three of them as pets, provided the birds do not create a nuisance or health hazard; are micro-chipped or fitted with a city-approved legband for identification; and are housed 100 feet from the closest neighboring home.
Those licensed roosters will be allowed to live out their lives in the city, but no "replacement roosters" will be allowed.
The ordinance allows exceptions for movie and television shoots, as well as for businesses and agencies to which roosters are integral, including educational facilities and animal exhibits, if proper permits are obtained.
Violations will result in a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for the second and $250 for the third, while repeated failure to comply could also be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.
Officials initially considered creating a rooster licensing program, but that idea was eventually scrapped. Linda Barth, assistant general manager of the Department of Animal Services, told the City Council "it would be a huge resource drain for us at this point."
"We are already in a significant uphill battle with diminishing resources to improve our dog licensing program, which is crucial because of the tie with rabies," she said. "We really don't have the resources or the ability at this juncture to try and tackle a licensing program or registration program for fowl."
The City Attorney's Office is still reviewing provisions that may be added to the ordinance at a later date, including a proposal to exempt children from paying registration fees for raising a rooster to exhibit in, for example, 4-H competitions.
Testifying before the City Council's Public Safety Committee last week, Barth conceded that enforcing the rooster ordinance would not be a high priority for her cash-strapped department.
"Probably 75 percent of what our officers respond to are leash-law violations, stray animals, animal cruelty and animals that are hurt," Barth said. "Although we will enforce the (rooster) ordinance to the best that our resources allow, you are correct that as a priority outside of animal cruelty, huge stray animals running about endangering people and hurt animals, enforcing the roosters (ordinance) ... will be a lower priority."