After 3-year-old J.J. was diagnosed with autism, his doctor suggested he get a pet. After some deliberation, J.J.'s mom, Ashleigh Hart, decided to get him some chickens. And guess what? They did wonders for J.J.! According to Hart, "He's talking more. He still has speech problems but he's talking much better. It's great exercise for him." The family also uses the eggs, both for eating and to teach J.J. new skills. Hart explained that when J.J. squeezes an egg too hard and it breaks, he better understands "cause and effect." Sounds great, right?
Wrong! J.J.'s beloved pet chickens are being taken away from him because the city council in their Florida town voted 3 to 2 that the chicken permit program -- which allowed the family to own chickens for one year -- needs to end. Neighbors aren't really feeling J.J.'s chickens as much as he is -- so much so that the family found decapitated chicks in their backyard. Lovely!
Despite the setback, though, J.J. and his family aren't going down without a fight. They started a Change.org petition to extend the program and are looking for help from others. They also created a Facebook group called "SAVE JJ HART'S 'Ducks'" to gain support and petition the ruling. On their Change.org petition, they wrote: "JJ is growing leaps and bounds. He is talking, potty trained, and has just a few quirks, but we LOVE THEM. With that said, if no action is taken, he is set to LOSE HIS CHICKENS DECEMBER 31, 2013."
Now, I understand that chickens aren't everyone's cup of tea, but put yourself in J.J.'s parents' position for a moment. Could you imagine having to take something away from your child that they not only love, but that is truly helping them? It seems to me that not only are there some cold people in J.J.'s neck of the woods, but the setup of the initial permit program was flawed. How do you stop something that's helping a child with autism after only one short year?
Hopefully, between the Change.org and Facebook petitions, J.J. will be able to keep his chickens, because if not, a sad day is around the corner for both J.J. and his parents. His father put it best when he said that he's "not looking forward to telling his son that they're coming to take his pets away." Heartbreaking.
Do you think J.J. should be able to keep his pet chickens?
Image via Steven-L-Johnson/Flickr