The Govoni family keeps ducks in the backyard of their Sycamore Street home in Miamisburg. The ducks provide eggs and a sort of therapy for their son with autism. However, it's illegal to have them in the city and the Govoni family may have to give them up.
Photo: SEAN CUDAHY / STAFF
Photo: SEAN CUDAHY / STAFF

Family heartbroken to find out backyard ducks not allowed in Miamisburg

“We spent most of our time in the summertime sitting out here, drinking on wine and watching our ducks because they have all different, unique personalities,” Arlee Govoni said.

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Since June, the family has housed them in a little fenced-in area they made. They feed and care for them, even give them medicine.

“He has a vitamin deficiency,” Govoni said of one duck.

The ducks even have served as sort of therapy animals for her son who has autism, she said.

The Govoni family keeps ducks in the backyard of their Sycamore Street home in Miamisburg. The ducks provide eggs and a sort of therapy for their son with autism. However, it's illegal to have them in the city and the Govoni family may have to give them up.
Photo: SEAN CUDAHY / STAFF

“My kids love them, everybody in the neighborhood loves them,” Govoni said.

But the family was surprised earlier this week when a city official told them they may have to get rid of their ducks, and if they don’t could face a citation.

Backyard poultry is a controversial issue, with many cities outlawing the practice, including Miamisburg. Govoni said she had no idea her family was breaking the law.

“I started crying at him, like ‘what can I do?’ ... I’m like ‘what can I do?’”

City officials issued the following statement regarding the city’s policy on backyard ducks or chickens:

“Some cities have chosen to allow them in normal residential districts under certain regulations and other cities have chosen not to allow them. At this time, Miamisburg has chosen to limit them to agricultural areas where such animals are more customarily found.”

“I understand ordinances, I understand city laws, but ... they’re not harming anybody, they’re not a nuisance, no one’s complaining about them. It’s not like we’re raising them to slaughter them. We literally have them ... no different than our dogs or our cats or anything,” Govoni said.

That’s also why Govoni is concerned about what would happen if she had to get rid of the ducks.

“I’ve raised them since ducklings,” she said. “We’ve had them since they were little yellow and brown chicks.”

Arlee Govoni cuddles one of the ducks her family keeps in the backyard of their East Sycamore Street home in Miamisburg.
Photo: SEAN CUDAHY / STAFF

“It’s heartbreaking to think to have to get rid of them them. ... I can’t give them to a pond. This is what they know; they know we feed them, we take care of them.”

For now, she is in limbo as she asks for the city to give her time while she searches for an answer.

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