Supporters flock to embattled Delmont duck owner
By Amanda Dolasinski
Published: Monday, July 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
An eviction notice issued to four pet ducks that live in a normally quiet backyard in Delmont has ruffled a few feathers across the country.
“We're just all upset,” owner James Kistler said, petting Larry while Moe, Curly and Fred picked at corn kernels in their pen.
Kistler is fighting a May 10 directive from the borough to relinquish the ducks or incur a $500 penalty for each day they remain because their living arrangements violate Delmont's household pets ordinance.
Kistler said he was taken aback by the attention his plight has drawn as a result of a July 1 report in the Tribune-Review. The story was picked up by other media outlets.
“I got phone calls from Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Colorado. They support me 100 percent,” he said.
The ordinance restricts residents from keeping certain animals “in the living quarters of a residential structure” — including “poultry.”
Kistler contends the ducks are not poultry because he has no intention of eating them and the four males don't lay eggs.
The borough zoning board will hear his appeal at 7 p.m. July 22.
In the meantime, Kistler's feathered friends are gaining popularity in pockets of the online community.
“Allow this man to keep his ducks and let Delmont worry about real issues,” wrote Robert Spreitzer, a reader from Florida, on the Trib Total Media website.
Lucas O'Neill, a reader from Wisconsin, added, “This is absolutely ridiculous. ... Just let him have his ducks. They are excellent pets!”
Kistler's wife started Delmont Ducks, a Facebook group with more than 60 supporters. Another digital petition was started by a man the Kistlers have never met.
Bernard DiGregorio of McDonald said he felt compelled to help.
“Ideally, it would be nice if all this went away and Mr. Kistler was allowed to keep his pets without further hassle,” DiGregorio said. “I would also hope that maybe the borough re-evaluates how they handle things and looks at the living conditions of pets. I'm not against them (borough officials) or the work they do; I just feel evaluation before action would be better for all.”
Armed with a clipboard, Kistler took a grass-roots approach by going through his neighborhood to solicit signatures for his “Save Our Ducks” petition.
Each time he knocked on a door, he made his plea: “Will you sign this to help me keep my ducks?”
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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