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A foul end for Plucky the chicken

Posted by Leslie Anderson  March 12, 2010 03:39 PM

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Plucky, the pet chicken that sparked a debate on poultry ownership in Waltham, has died.

The hen died in mid-February after a dog attacked her, puncturing her neck, according to her owner, Sharan Hawkes. She said the dog belongs to a family friend and had been at their home before, but had never seemed to notice Plucky until the attack.

“At first we thought she was just in shock and we rushed her to the vet,” Hawkes said in an interview Friday. “She was having trouble breathing.”

Her youngest daughter, Caroline, stayed in the veterinarian’s office with her beloved pet until it died.

Hawkes added that during the ordeal the vet found a tumor in Plucky’s body and said the chicken would have died soon anyway.

The loss has hit the Hawkes family hard. Plucky came into their lives 17 months earlier when Sharan Hawkes’s husband, John, found the homeless fowl wandering around in front of their home.

Plucky became the family pet, living in a coop in the backyard of the Dix Street home. And the Hawkes family launched an effort to change Waltham’s zoning regulations to allow homeowners to keep one chicken as a pet.

Sharan Hawkes said her three daughters, who all shared responsibilities caring for the chicken, have had a difficult time coping with Plucky’s death.

They loved the chicken like they would any other pet, holding and petting her and teaching her tricks like jumping in the air to eat a piece of lettuce they would hold above her head.

Meanwhile, the move to make Waltham’s zoning regulations more fowl-friendly has been tabled by the Ordinances and Rules Committee. The city clerk’s office said city councilors have until mid-April to take the measure off the table before it expires.

City Councilor at Large Paul Brasco, who cosponsored the ordinance change, said he does not believe the measure will move off the table.  Although he and many other councilors initially supported it, he received a lot of feedback from people on both sides of the issue.

"I think in the end I don’t think there would be enough support throughout the community for such an ordinance to be passed," he said.

Brasco added that the City Council had also initially acted quickly on the matter in order to allow the family to keep Plucky, but that sense of urgency diminished once the chicken died.

Hawkes said she is disappointed that the change has not moved forward, but will continue to push for the change in memory of Plucky. She is doing even more research and has spoken to health department officials in surrounding towns that allow people to own chickens.
If the measure does pass, the family intends to buy another pet chicken.

“In Plucky’s name we’re going to continue this,” she said.

Jessica Rudis can be reached at

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