WWII Vet Wins The War but looses to City By-Law

Dr.Holtom isn’t your average urban backyard chicken keeper.

A World War II Veteran, and a practicing Chiropractor, Dr.Holtom is 94 years young. He’s always looking for new things to learn and opportunities to enrich his life.  Between hosting his weekly Saturday night poker game for ‘the guys’, treating his Chiropractic patients three days a week and caring for his home and property in urban Ottawa, Dr.Holtom was still looking for some companionship to fill-in the rest of his days.

So in 2015 when his daughter suggested he get a few hens to care for in his backyard his eyes just lit up.

Prior to moving to the city, Dr.Holtom’s family owned 7 acres of rural land just outside the City of Ottawa.  “We had over 200 meat birds, 40 layings hens, pigs, pheasants, horses and of course, dogs and cats.”  Dr. Holtom looks back on his rural lifestyle with fond memories.  “I like chickens because they are easy to care for. They’ve got some personality to ‘em.”

So with some new found energy and excitement for caring for chickens again, Dr.Holtom got out his tools and got to work. He built his own coop and a fenced in run for his hens, and when his six ready-to-lay hens finally arrived he was thrilled.

“I’d go out there every morning with my coffee and sit in a chair next to their run. I liked talking to them.”  Dr.Holtom says the hens helped him relieve stress, provided him with companionship and were easier to care for than a dog.  They were motivation to keep him in his own home and living an independent lifestyle.

Over and above his morning coffee chat with the chickens, he enjoyed cleaning the coop, and making sure they had fresh food and water every day. He also loved giving them treats, “Their favorite thing was sourdough bread. Not too much. Just little cubes. They’d go crazy for that.” Dr.Holtom was also getting 6 fresh eggs every day from his hens, which were a healthy addition to his own diet.

So when a By Law officer showed up at his front door, Dr.Holtom was upset and frustrated. The By Law officer just said “I’m here because we’ve had a complaint because you have chickens.”  The complaint wasn’t because of smell or noise, but just because he had them.  The City of Ottawa By Law defines chickens as livestock, making them the same as a cow, a horse, or a goat.  And you can’t have Livestock in a residential zone in the city limits.

“LIVESTOCK:  74 (1) No person shall keep livestock in any area of the City unless the area is zoned for that purpose or is lawfully used for that purpose.”

The By Law officer wouldn’t say who made the complaint but Dr.Holtom has his suspicions.  A week prior to the By Law officer showing up, his next door neighbour’s dog dug under their shared fence and ate some chicken feed that was on the ground.  His neighbour came over and told Dr.Holtom that “We have a problem.”   The neighbour’s dog got sick from eating the feed, and the neighbour had to pay a large vet bill to fix the dog.  Dr.Holtom is angry because the feed was on his own property. “I should charge the dog with trespassing on my property!” he jokes.

The By Law officer gave Dr.Holtom 30 days to get rid of the chickens before they would fine him.  When the By Law officer showed up 28 days later to see if the chickens were gone, Dr.Holtom proudly told him he still had two more days left in his 30 day notice period and he wasn’t getting rid of them a minute before he had to.

One of Dr.Holtom’s chiropractic patients owns a farm and offered to take his hens for him.  Which is good for the hens, at least they were able to be rehomed. But Dr.Holtom’s morning coffee next to an empty coop just isn’t the same as it used to be.

The use of chickens as therapy pets is on the rise in senior residences and nursing homes.

Chickens are now being used as therapy animals for people of all ages to address a wide variety of issues including dementia, Alzheimer’s, psychiatric illness, depression, and autism. Their calming effect helps with symptoms like anxiety, emotional distress and social frustration…Organizations are starting to bring chickens to nursing homes to use as therapy animals for memory loss patients. Agitation is a major issue for people with dementia, and holding a chicken has been shown to calm them down. Chickens have also been shown to reduce loneliness and depression for the elderly…they have been shown to increase social skills, enhance conversation abilities, and promote self-care and independent living skills through daily chores.” [www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/the-benefits-of-backyard-chickens]

It’s a sad day when taking away a 94 year old man’s therapy pets is on the ‘To Do’ list of our neighbours and By Law officials.

Sept 16,2016 update: CTV News Ottawa did a segment on Dr.Holtom’s Story, you can watch it here

Don’t miss out on great articles like this and more – subscribe to The Landowner Magazine today!

Readers Comments


  1. A Sanctioned Canadian on December 1, 2016 at 9:40 am said:

    If you accept enslavement by others who seek to command authority over you, then don’t complain about the born free rights you have surrendered

  2. A Sanctioned Canadian on December 1, 2016 at 9:49 am said:

    Everyone must respect and honor the sacrifices many of our ancestors have made to achieve and preserve our rights and freedoms. Take up the battle and act as the new champions to preserve our Magna Carta, Constitution, Charter Rights and Freedoms especially where lesser legislation’s are passed and attempted to be enforced when they are invalid and Trumped by well established existing legislation

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WWII Vet Wins The War but looses to City By-Law

Dr.Holtom isn’t your average urban backyard chicken keeper.

A World War II Veteran, and a practicing Chiropractor, Dr.Holtom is 94 years young. He’s always looking for new things to learn and opportunities to enrich his life.  Between hosting his weekly Saturday night poker game for ‘the guys’, treating his Chiropractic patients three days a week and caring for his home and property in urban Ottawa, Dr.Holtom was still looking for some companionship to fill-in the rest of his days.

So in 2015 when his daughter suggested he get a few hens to care for in his backyard his eyes just lit up.

Prior to moving to the city, Dr.Holtom’s family owned 7 acres of rural land just outside the City of Ottawa.  “We had over 200 meat birds, 40 layings hens, pigs, pheasants, horses and of course, dogs and cats.”  Dr. Holtom looks back on his rural lifestyle with fond memories.  “I like chickens because they are easy to care for. They’ve got some personality to ‘em.”

So with some new found energy and excitement for caring for chickens again, Dr.Holtom got out his tools and got to work. He built his own coop and a fenced in run for his hens, and when his six ready-to-lay hens finally arrived he was thrilled.

“I’d go out there every morning with my coffee and sit in a chair next to their run. I liked talking to them.”  Dr.Holtom says the hens helped him relieve stress, provided him with companionship and were easier to care for than a dog.  They were motivation to keep him in his own home and living an independent lifestyle.

Over and above his morning coffee chat with the chickens, he enjoyed cleaning the coop, and making sure they had fresh food and water every day. He also loved giving them treats, “Their favorite thing was sourdough bread. Not too much. Just little cubes. They’d go crazy for that.” Dr.Holtom was also getting 6 fresh eggs every day from his hens, which were a healthy addition to his own diet.

So when a By Law officer showed up at his front door, Dr.Holtom was upset and frustrated. The By Law officer just said “I’m here because we’ve had a complaint because you have chickens.”  The complaint wasn’t because of smell or noise, but just because he had them.  The City of Ottawa By Law defines chickens as livestock, making them the same as a cow, a horse, or a goat.  And you can’t have Livestock in a residential zone in the city limits.

“LIVESTOCK:  74 (1) No person shall keep livestock in any area of the City unless the area is zoned for that purpose or is lawfully used for that purpose.”

The By Law officer wouldn’t say who made the complaint but Dr.Holtom has his suspicions.  A week prior to the By Law officer showing up, his next door neighbour’s dog dug under their shared fence and ate some chicken feed that was on the ground.  His neighbour came over and told Dr.Holtom that “We have a problem.”   The neighbour’s dog got sick from eating the feed, and the neighbour had to pay a large vet bill to fix the dog.  Dr.Holtom is angry because the feed was on his own property. “I should charge the dog with trespassing on my property!” he jokes.

The By Law officer gave Dr.Holtom 30 days to get rid of the chickens before they would fine him.  When the By Law officer showed up 28 days later to see if the chickens were gone, Dr.Holtom proudly told him he still had two more days left in his 30 day notice period and he wasn’t getting rid of them a minute before he had to.

One of Dr.Holtom’s chiropractic patients owns a farm and offered to take his hens for him.  Which is good for the hens, at least they were able to be rehomed. But Dr.Holtom’s morning coffee next to an empty coop just isn’t the same as it used to be.

The use of chickens as therapy pets is on the rise in senior residences and nursing homes.

Chickens are now being used as therapy animals for people of all ages to address a wide variety of issues including dementia, Alzheimer’s, psychiatric illness, depression, and autism. Their calming effect helps with symptoms like anxiety, emotional distress and social frustration…Organizations are starting to bring chickens to nursing homes to use as therapy animals for memory loss patients. Agitation is a major issue for people with dementia, and holding a chicken has been shown to calm them down. Chickens have also been shown to reduce loneliness and depression for the elderly…they have been shown to increase social skills, enhance conversation abilities, and promote self-care and independent living skills through daily chores.” [www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/the-benefits-of-backyard-chickens]

It’s a sad day when taking away a 94 year old man’s therapy pets is on the ‘To Do’ list of our neighbours and By Law officials.

Sept 16,2016 update: CTV News Ottawa did a segment on Dr.Holtom’s Story, you can watch it here

Don’t miss out on great articles like this and more – subscribe to The Landowner Magazine today!

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