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Therapy chickens get to stay with autistic 3-year old boy

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On Dec. 19 Today reports that JJ Hart gets to keep his therapy chickens as a "reasonable accommodation to a special needs child." The city of DeBary, Fla. had decided that they were going to end a one-year pilot program called the "Urban Chicken Pilot Program" which allowed chickens to live within the city limits, meaning JJ would lose his chickens too.

When news got around that the three-year old autistic boy would be losing his chickens, the only therapy that has worked for him thus far, the city's Facebook page started receiving hateful comments, and Mayor Bob Garcia started being inundated with letters as far as Puerto Rico, Canada and Jamaica pleading with him to allow the Harts to keep their chickens. Mayor Garcia, a personal family friend of the Hart family says that JJ has been thriving since receiving his chickens a year ago. He's doing better now, having come out of his shell, than occupational, physical, and speech therapies were ever able to do him.

The city council has strict limitations of what kinds of pets and animals can live within the city limits and when they decided that the chickens weren't working out, it meant that the Hart family would have to give up the one thing that has help the autistic boy would have to be re-homed. After much deliberation, the city council decided that JJ could keep the chickens under the condition that he still be living in the home. After Ashleigh Hart, JJ's mother, lobbied against the city to allow the boy to keep his beloved pets that his doctor recommended he get, the city finally relented to keep their remaining chicken after an incident left three of the four therapy chickens beheaded.

Mayor Garcia has praised the Hart family for being persistent and not relenting against the city. Mrs. Hart says she is simply happy that JJ has finally won and this whole mess is over.



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