City Government Prohibits Autistic Boy's Therapeutic Pet Chickens

The Hart family found a way to
help their autistic toddler through animal therapy, specifically
with pet chickens. Now, their local city council in DeBary, Florida
– fully aware of the boy’s condition and treatment – is telling the
family that they have to get rid of their pets.

The Harts discovered the transformative effect chickens had on
their son, J.J., last year. The boy previously experienced long
bouts of silence and fits of anger. J.J.’s mother, Ashleigh, told
Orlando Sentinel
about the positive effects the birds have
had on her son, “he’s now going to a new preschool, and he’s able
to communicate much better. And it all has to do with the chickens.
He plays with them. He cuddles with them. And he runs around the
yard with them. … It’s made a tremendous difference.” 

The city initially cited them for a code violation, but the
Harts petitioned to be allowed to keep their pets
and DeBary city
council began a pilot program. The city
allowed chickens, though required a permit. Reports indicate that
the Harts and one other household, which was raising the chickens
for eggs, participated in program.

Yet, the council voted last week 3-2 to yank away residents’
privilege to care for these animals. Mayor Bob Garcia was among the
dissenting voices. He
to Fox News his view that “if we make
laws that take away rights of individuals, especially children,
those laws should be abolished. We should be protecting the rights
of individuals, not suppressing them.”

Council member Nick Koval saw the situation differently. “I
sympathize,” he assured, “but, we spend a lot of time and money
establishing codes and ordinances for the protection of the
citizens and taxpayers of this community. And I believe that they
[chickens] belong in agricultural areas.”

While some government officials insist that the flightless birds
harm the community, how much harm could the ban do to this

“It could be devastating to him,” Dr. Emily Forrest, who
specializes in autism, explained that “children with autism are
extremely sensitive to changes in their lives.” Forrest added,
“it’s really sad for him that he has to stop because of a city

from Hit & Run

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