Court Allows Boy with Autism to Keep Therapeutic Chickens

The DeBary City Council is letting J.J. Hart, a three-year-old boy from Florida, keep his therapeutic chickens. 

Earlier in December, the council voted that DeBary residents would not be allowed to keep chicken coups in their backyards. Unfortunately for the Hart family, their chickens were the one thing that helped J.J.’s verbal skills and eased his outbursts.

“We’re very happy,” J.J.’s mother, Ashleigh Hart, said Wednesday. “We like to think that the chickens have been a great help in addition to everything else that we’ve done for J.J.”

“I always felt that it was a violation of a person’s rights,” Mayor Bob Garcia said in support of accommodating the Harts.

City officials agreed to let the Harts keep their chickens after their attorney Mark Nation threatened to sue the city council and take the case to federal court. According to Nation, removing the chickens would violate the Federal Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act.

Pressure also fell on the city council due to media coverage, notably from NBC’s Today Show.

“This is a 100 percent win for J.J.,” Nation said about the council considering an exception. “People with disabilities do have special needs and accommodations.”

For more information on animal therapy and autism, please follow the link here: http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/2013/11/19/heeling-autism/

Sources: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-12-11/news/os-debary-chickens-hart-attorney-20131210_1_ashleigh-hart-j-j-hart-pet-chickens

http://www.today.com/video/today/53779811#53733424