In what has been an ugly fight for a family in DeBary, Florida, finally there is some positive news. Two-year-old J.J. Hart will get to keep at least some of his chickens, which his family says helps him cope with his autism.
His parents kept about 10 of the animals in a backyard coop for months, and they and his pediatrician were amazed at the "breakthrough" behavior J.J. showed, which they attributed to the fowl (which J.J. called "ducks). Then last month someone went and complained to the city, and the family was found to be violating a law against backyard animals. They were given 60 days, during which they were going to seek a special reprieve to keep the animals.
Then something horrific happened. Four of the animals were found beheaded.
While the sheriff's office ruled that they chickens were most likely killed by an animal, the family disagrees and believes someone did it deliberately to hurt them. The timing was a little too coincidental too, so I'd be more inclined to believe the family as horrifying as it is to think someone would be so sick to do such a thing.
Regardless, poor J.J. lost several of his friends to a violent death, and it looked like he might lose the rest too.
Thankfully, yesterday, with the support of dozens in the community, the Harts appealed the decision, and won at least a partial victory. The city council developed a new ordinance that allows all residents to keep as many as three chickens in their backyard.
While it's a good start, and the Hart's attorney called it a "complete victory," it may not be quite enough. "Well, we have more than three chickens, so we want to keep what we have," Ashley Hart, J.J.'s mother, told 13 News.
So the story may not end there, but regardless, it's good to see a community coming together and trying to work out a solution to accommodate this boy.
When it comes to autism there are so many unknowns and so many different treatments that work differently for each individual. There is certainly no cure nor is there one proven means of therapy, and some approaches may be unconventional. But that doesn't mean families shouldn't be allowed to pursue them, especially when they show promise. To do so, however, they often need the support and flexibility of their communities, of their schools, and of the general population. So it's good to see at least a small show of that here in this case.
Are you glad to hear this boy gets to keep at least some of his chickens?
Image via wattpublishing/Flickr