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Scratch one up for Mrs. Cluck Cluck

January 9, 1997

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. (AP) _ Not many chickens have their own page on the Internet. Then again, not many chickens have ruffled as many feathers as Mrs. Cluck Cluck.

Mrs. Cluck Cluck has been the subject of town meetings, legal machinations and a Web page in this north Florida community, which recently ordered the red hen out of its home.

It seems poultry are not allowed in residential areas, except when they’re slow-roasting in the kitchen. But Mrs. Cluck Cluck’s family refuses to let her fly the coop.

``It’s my children’s pet,″ Niurka Martin said.

The City Council has not been sympathetic. In December, it ordered the Martins to get rid of the chicken in 30 days or face fines of up to $500 a day and 60 days in jail.

The Martins paid $300 to draft a new ordinance allowing residents to keep one special pet _ such as chicken.

Until the ordinance changes, Mrs. Cluck Cluck is under house arrest. If it is not approved, the banishment order stands.

The order of exile turned Mrs. Cluck Cluck into a celebrity.

Scores of people signed petitions to name Mrs. Cluck Cluck an honorary citizen.

The Martins sought the aid of chicken-lovers everywhere, establishing a web page titled ``Cluck Cluck vs. City Hall.″

Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns Inc., a chicken-rights organization in Potomac, Md., said the Martins have her support.

``My hen, Ethel Murmur, relishes these moments, and so do I,″ she said of the quality time spent with her pet. ``They are lively, zesty, they are very companionable. They relish all kinds of attention.″

The Martins agree. Mrs. Cluck Cluck likes to be petted, frolics with the family cat, hangs out with their dog and eats from the hands of the Martins’ four children.

City Hall is not pleased. Letters, calls and faxes from as far away as Hawaii have flooded its offices, most pro-chicken.

``I personally feel it has gotten out of hand,″ said City Clerk Karen McGill. ``People have spent too much time on it.″

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