By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver
(Aurora, Colo.) Ducks, maybe. Pigs, no.
An Aurora City Council committee offered that directive last week for keeping livestock as pets in residential neighborhoods.
Some residents in recent months have asked council members whether it's permissible to keep ducks or small pigs in town.
The Housing, Neighborhood Services and Redevelopment Policy Committee did not take any action at the June 2 meeting. Committee members listened to a presentation and recommendations from Anthony Youngblood of the city's animal services department.
Hens allowed but not roosters
Aurora law only allows livestock other than chickens in areas zoned agricultural, which does not include much of the city.
City staff proposed ducks could be permitted in town on residential properties with 20,000 square feet or more. Duck owners would have to adhere to guidelines, such as providing fresh water for the birds to bathe in and keeping them in coops at least 15 feet from a neighbor's property.
No one would be allowed more than eight birds, either chickens, ducks, or a combination of the two. The city already allows up to six hens with a permit. Aurora prohibits roosters.
Like chickens, ducks would need to be under lock and key from dusk to dawn to protect them from predators.
Youngblood cautioned the committee members that ducks are messier than chickens. He said chickens eat their feces, but ducks do not. He said duck feces attract insects more than chicken feces.
Pigs noisier than small airplanes
As for the pigs, Youngblood said some cities allow them and some don't. He strongly recommended against allowing pigs. "Pigs get to a new home and grow much larger than expected."
He said even pigs weighing just 20 pounds eat a lot. They also can spread disease to humans, such as salmonellosis and erysipelas, he said.
The worst thing about neighbors having pigs as pets probably is the noise, Youngblood said. He said the animals emit sounds louder than those of a small airplane. The noises pigs make during mating season can be louder "than anything you've ever heard," he said.
Councilmember Juan Marcano said some pig owners place the animals on diets, which he believes is cruel.
Denver requires permits for pigs
Councilmember Crystal Murillo asked about Denver's pig policy. Youngblood said Denver allows the pigs if applicants get their neighbors' permission and meet other requirements. About half of the people who apply for pig permits in Denver receive them, Youngblood said.
Murillo questioned whether Aurora should develop a policy like Denver's for experienced pig owners who address noise issues. Youngblood explained Aurora has no way to care for a pig if one were to escape its pen. The nearest veterinarian for pigs is many miles away in Lafayette, he said.
Youngblood said pigs force homeowners associations to carry additional insurance.
Marcano agreed pigs belong in rural areas. "Pigs are adorable, they're sweet animals, but they're not really suited for residential areas."