Sterling Heights Man Faces Jail Over Backyard Pigeons

His child screams, "This is so dumb" in a video.

WWJ News
October 21, 2019 - 8:58 am

(WWJ) The City of Sterling Heights says a resident has gone afoul of the law - for violating a city ordinance that bans keeping pigeons on private property.

Who cares about what many consider the rats of the sky?

The city's large Chaldean population does.

"The Chaldeans from the old country like to race pigeons, and they like to race them all over the place. In fact one of them fetched about a million dollars from China," attorney Greg Rohl of Novi explained.

An online search turns up "rare" pigeons for sale in Sterling Heights for $40 each. 

The art of racing pigeons involves releasing specially trained racing pigeons, who return to their homes over a carefully measured distance. The distance they traveled and the time it took to arrive back home is calculated and compared to choose the fastest pigeon.  

While Sterling Heights banned home pigeons in 2008, Rohl is defending a man who faces criminal charges for refusing to give up his outdoor birds. He was charged with a misdemeanor. 

The belief is that pigeons are dirty and disease ridden, but Rohl disputes that. He says the pigeon coops are kept so clean "you should see them." "They're cleaner than my house."

Rohl is challenging the city's statute on religious grounds, calling it "like a pigeon religion cult."

Langton visited one of the coops and met a family whose small boy was devastated over the possible loss of his pigeons. Screaming and crying, he repeated "This is so dumb," while a female member of the family egged him on.

"These pigeons are their pets, they  have their names, they take care of them," Rohl said.