Autistic Florida Boy Cannot Keep Pet Chickens: City Council

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A family in Florida is facing an agonizing decision: give up the pet chickens that have proven therapeutic for their autistic 3-year-old son, or move to another city.

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JJ Hart, 3, plays with his chicken Snow at his home in DeBary, FLA. on Friday December 06, 2013. (Credit: Orlando Sentinel)

J.J. Hart has become more talkative and less prone to tantrums since his parents brought the three hens to their home in DeBary, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

J.J., who calls the chickens “ducks,” is “now doing amazing,” his mother, Ashleigh Hart, told the Sentinel. “He’s now going to a new preschool, and he’s able to communicate much better. And it all has to do with the chickens.”

But a recent decision by the DeBary City Council has mandated that, as of Dec. 31, chicken coops in residential backyards will no longer be legal.

“We’re really not sure what we’re going to do now,” said Joe Hart, J.J.’s father. “He was doing so well with the chickens, and now they’re telling us that we can’t have them anymore.”

City Councilman Nick Koval, who described the situation as “unfortunate,” said he sympathized with the Hart’s plight. “But we spend a lot of time and money establishing codes and ordinances for the protection of the citizens and taxpayers of this community,” Koval said. “And I believe that they [chickens] belong in agricultural areas.”