Autistic DeBary boy's family can keep backyard chickens

Special accommodation to program made for 3-year-old JJ Hart's family

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:40:28 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 11 2013 12:49:45 PM EST
DeBARY, Fla. -

The city of DeBary said on Wednesday they will grant a special accommodation for the family of a 3-year-old autistic boy to keep chickens in their backyard, days after the council voted to end the backyard chickens program.

The mayor of DeBary tells Local 6 the resolution to allow 3-year-old J.J. Hart to keep his chickens has already been drafted and will need to be voted on at a special hearing Dec. 18 at 6 p.m.

Joseph Hart says the chickens have helped his son make tremendous progress. A physician recommended getting the chickens to help with therapy for the boy.

The Harts held a news conference Wednesday morning with their lawyers at the The Nation Law Firm in Longwood.

The Harts had been fighting to keep the chickens on their property since 2012. Last year, someone filed an anonymous complaint with the DeBary city officials, saying the chickens violated zoning rules and days later, the chickens were found beheaded in the Hart family's backyard. The Harts believe someone broke into their chicken coop and hurt the birds to intimidate the family. Law enforcement has said they believe another animal got into the coop.

The Harts' story sparked a Change.org petition, which collected more than 2,500 signatures since it was launched on Sunday.

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.