MISSOURI CITY, Texas – The Lake Olympia Homeowner’s Association in Missouri City sued an elderly resident recently for up to $10,000 in damages after she refused to get rid of her pet chickens.
Teddi Alvey, a mother of five, grandmother of ten and retired nurse, has kept chickens as pets for 45 years; first in Utah, then Arizona, and in Missouri City, outside Houston, since 1998.
“Some people get a dog, or a cat, we get chickens. We’re just chicken people,” Alvey said, laughing.
The Alveys thought chickens were allowed in the backyard of their home in Lake Olympia in Missouri City when they moved in 22 years ago. They realized they were wrong in 2008.
“No sheep, goats, horses, cattle, swine, poultry…snakes, livestock or other animals or fowl of any kind shall ever be intentionally kept on any lot or the property,” the HOA bylaw says.
That year, the Alveys told KPRC 2 that an HOA member told them they could keep hens, but no roosters, as long as the animals didn’t disturb the neighbors.
KPRC 2 spoke to seven neighbors on Wednesday, whose yards touch the Alveys, all of whom said they had no problem with the hens.
In late February, the HOA board sent the Alveys a letter letting them know the chickens were a “violation” and had to go. After initially resisting, Don Alvey told his wife they might have to give up.
“When I told her that, the thing that was hardest for me is watching her break down,” Don Alvey said.
Teddi Alvey sank into depression and saw a psychiatrist for the first time, who prescribed anti-depressants and wrote a letter to the judge in the case, which said, in part:
“Alvey requires her seven chickens to reside within her backyard for medical reasons as service animals to keep her calm and be able to function in everyday life. … I believe it may be detrimental to her health and well-being if she is unable to get this accommodation.”
Six neighbors of the Alvey family wrote letters to the judge practically begging him to save the chickens.
“It is absolutely no bother to us,” wrote one. “No noise, no smell, or nuisance.”
The Cross family, who live next door, love the chickens so much they built a gate into their shared backyard fence so their toddler could come to feed the animals every day.
“The lawsuit is just…really uncalled for,” Joe Cross said.
“The HOA should piss off,” said another neighbor, who didn’t want to be named.
“The matter is in litigation and we can’t comment,” HOA attorney Terry Sears said over the phone on Wednesday night. “Other than to say the board of directors is duty-bound to enforce the restrictions.”
“We expect the judge to enforce the bylaws,” he added. “We’ve afforded [the Alveys] numerous opportunities to comply.”
The Alveys never eat the chickens, who live up to 10 years. The current group is a little over one year old.
An attorney representing the Alveys called the lawsuit “illegal and unjust” in a court filing. He claimed the statute of limitations had run out for the HOA.