An 8-year-old boy is at the center of a legal dispute in Coral Springs, Florida, all because a city ordinance prohibits people from keeping certain kinds of animals as pets.
Kason Ray has Down Syndrome and was given a therapy pig named Twinkie to help him with his developmental and speech delays. His parents chose to give him the Juliana pig as a therapy animal instead of a dog or other pet because Kason's dad and brother are allergic to many types of animals.
And since the little boy has had the pig, his mom has already noticed a difference in him. Heather Ray said, "You know, he does get mad. He throws fits. He doesn’t like things, and Twinkie has a very calming effect on him. It mellows him out, it calms him down. It’s so good for him. He loves her so much."
Ok, so what gives? Why is having a pig such a big problem if it is something that helps a special needs child? Well, according to the communication and marketing director for the city of Coral Springs, Bob Goehrig, "A city ordinance does not allow pigs as pets. Pigs are considered livestock. If the Rays can show us there is a medical necessity and can bring documentation, we’ll be glad to look into it."
And here's where the frustration for the Ray family really kicks in -- Heather filed all of the proper paperwork to obtain a waiver for the ordinance, including a note from Kason's doctor saying that a therapy pet was recommended to help him with his disabilities.
So basically, the city has their documentation, but they still won't grant the waiver, and now the family could be faced with fines costing up to $500 per day for breaking the ordinance.
Um, is anyone else just a little bit outraged over this?
Because as a mother, it seems almost like a mild form of torture to take away not only a child's beloved pet, but a pet that is necessary to help him cope with his medical struggles on a daily basis.
I may not be the parent of a special needs child, but I still experience the same feelings of joy and pride when my son learns something new, or finds something that he can love and connect with.
Heather Ray must burst at the seams with happiness when she sees Kason interact with that pig, so the idea of either being fined for having it or possibly being forced to take it away from her son forever must be tearing her apart.
Rules were made to be broken, or at the very least, there are exceptions to every rule. And if the city of Coral Springs has any sort of heart, they'll let the poor kid keep his pig and move on to real problems that need to be dealt with.
Do you think Kason should be allowed to keep the pig? Or was his mother wrong to go against the city ordinance in the first place?
Image via ozmafan/Flickr