Family gets to keep some therapeutic chickens for DeBary autistic boy

Parents plan to fight to keep all son's chickens

DeBARY, Fla. - The family of an autistic boy has found out they will be able to keep some of his therapeutic chickens.

The decision was made at a DeBary council debate Wednesday.

"I'm excited. We get to keep JJ's kitchens and other citizens are going to be able to get some, too," said Ashleigh Hart, the boy's mother.

City leaders passed an ordinance with several last-minute changes. The Harts can keep chickens without any permission from neighbors, and JJ can continue to play with the chickens outside the coop, but only three can stay. The family currently has six.

The Harts say the chickens have had a huge effect on 2-year-old JJ's autism, seemingly making it disappear when he's with them.

"He's going to notice if there's only three as opposed to six," said Ashleigh Hart.

Local 6's Shaun Chaiyabhat reported the family plans to work with an attorney and fight to keep all six chickens.

In October, after city officials received an anonymous complaint about the Hart family's chickens, the DeBary Code Enforcement Board determined the family was in violation of an ordinance prohibiting livestock and farm animals on residential property. The Harts were given 60 days to remove the chickens or face fines.

"He loves them to death and the first thing he does when you go, 'You want to see the chickens?' He used to call them ducks, and now he's going to chickens, which says he's progressing," said Ashleigh Hart.

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