Bird owners say a plan to change Arlington’s animal control ordinance to limit the number of birds people can have on their property doesn't fly with them.
The proposal would limit residents to 25 birds. City officials say it is a quality-of-life issue for neighbors of bird owners.
But breeders say the proposed ordinance would kill the sport of pigeon racing in Arlington.
Layne Miller, who has bred and raced pigeons since he was a teenager, said owners need 80 to 100 pigeons in order to race.
Breeder Walter Goodwin said racing pigeons shouldn't be confused with regular pigeons.
"These are a special breed," he said. "They connect these birds with those on the buildings, and there's no comparison."
Arlington officials said at least one homeowner has complained about pigeons leaving a mess on her property.
"These birds are clean," Goodwin said. "We don't want to bother our neighbors in any way. We don't want any problems with our neighbors."
Owners say keeping the racing pigeons and their coups clean is in the best interest of their neighborhoods, as well as the birds and the sport.
"A messy loft causes unhealthy birds," Goodwin said. "You can't fly and race unhealthy birds."
Bird owners say the ordinance would harm more than a hobby.
"It's kind of a way of life with us," Miller said.