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Council allows autistic boy to keep chickens

6:44 AM, Dec 19, 2013   |    comments
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DEBARY, Fla. - A 3-year-old autistic boy in DeBary will be allowed to keep his chickens.

A special exception was approved by the DeBary City Council on Wednesday night.

The parents of J.J. Hart, 3, had been fighting city officials for more than a year to allow their son to keep his three pet chickens.

The boy's parents said they've seen big differences in their son since the chickens were brought to their home.

"The changes are tremendous," parent Ashleigh Hart said. "He's talking."

Backyard chickens violate DeBary's code. The Hart family convinced city officials to try a pilot program to allow them in 2012.

But the City Council voted Wednesday morning to discontinue the program, which meant J.J. would have to get rid of his pets.

The Hart family threatened a lawsuit, citing the Federal Fair Housing Act and rallied the community.

"It's not only your legal obligation. It's your moral obligation. Have you ever had a child with a disability that is suffering?" family supporter Jamison Jessup said.

The threatened lawsuit worked. The City Council made a special exception for J.J. and allowed him to keep his chickens for as long as he lives in the same address in DeBary.

"It feels good that it's done," Ashleigh Hart said. "It's ridiculous that it took this, but you've got to do what you've got to do."

WESH

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