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Ulen woman will ask City Hall to let her keep pet duck after rules rewritten to prohibit farm animals in town

ULEN, Minn.

ULEN, Minn. -- A woman here said she would rather move than give up a pet duck now considered an outlaw under new city animal rules approved in December.

Monika Spitzmiller, 41, said when she moved to Ulen in 2005, city officials assured her the duck - who shares a name with the famous magician, Houdini - could live there.

She said the city recently informed her, however, that the animal violates a new rule that bans farm animals, including fowl, unless they are kept on property 10 acres or larger.

City Clerk Sandy Braseth said the provision is part of a broad overhaul of the city's animal rules based on language provided by the League of Minnesota Cities.

Spitzmiller said she plans to be at tonight's City Council meeting to ask that the duck be allowed to stay.

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The city has accommodated other residents affected by the change in rules.

People who own more than two dogs, the limit under the new ordinance, were grandfathered in, but they will not be allowed to replace canines that die if the total number in a household exceeds two.

Spitzmiller said her bird is special to her for several reasons.

When she purchased the bird as a duckling, it was unable to walk. She said that with care and attention, the duck gained mobility and the two enjoy walks together when the weather is warm.

Focusing on the duck's recovery has helped her own recovery from a traumatic experience, Spitzmiller said.

Citing a similar situation last year in Barnesville, Minn., where a family decided to leave town rather than give up a pair of beloved ducks, Spitzmiller said she will fight "any way that I can" to keep the animal and will move if she has no alternative.

Ulen Mayor Gordon Nichols said he is willing to hear Spitzmiller's request.

"The city has always been able to work well with its citizens," Nichols said, adding he will keep an open mind about the bird.

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"Anything is possible," he said, referring to the council's potential response.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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