On the one hand, it seems easy to quickly answer "yes, they are." But if we're to honor the wisdom of the wiki-editors over at Wikipedia, a pet is:
A pet or companion animal is an animal kept for companionship and enjoyment, as opposed to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful characteristics, for their attractive appearance, or for their song. Pets also generally seem to provide their owners with non-trivial health benefits; keeping pets has been shown to help relieve stress to those who like having animals around.When I see the main defining characteristic in the "as opposed to" list as being kept for economic reasons, my chickens fail the definition. But when I look at the characteristics of "the most popular pets" I see my own chickens fulfilling each one. And the health benefits of keeping chickens for the privilege of consuming their eggs can't be understated. At least until they're too old to lay. Hmmm.
More practically, it looks like the folks over in Clay, Alabama are struggling mightily with the issue of chickens as pets.
The city's low density residential zoning does not allow livestock but does allow household pets. The ordinance does not define household pets. Commissioner Debby Clayton said the Alabama Law Code does not define pets either and does not include poultry in livestock. In one section, the law says "livestock is defined as equine or equidae, cows, swine, goats, and sheep."oops, someone forgot about the chickens (and ducks and geese and...)
Maybe they didn't forget about poultry when writing the code and instead are sending a clear signal that urban chickens, even low-density residential chickens, shouldn't be prohibited. Given the biggest complaints about the chickens in Clay are due to the noise the roosters make, I'm inclined to think the code was unintentionally incomplete in banning roosters.
Maybe we can help the Clay commission settle this: are chickens to be considered pets? if not, what are they?