Police: Autistic boy's therapeutic chickens beheaded

City says anonymous complaint had been made about animals

DeBARY, Fla. - Chickens that a family uses for therapy for their autistic son were found beheaded over the weekend, police said.

Volusia County deputies said they suspect the incident happened between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Hart family built a chicken coop in the spring after a doctor suggested the animals would be therapeutic for their autistic son.

According to Joe Hart, 2-year-old JJ's father, JJ's vocabulary and social skills both improved after the chickens were brought home. After nearly two years of not talking, JJ began crowing, imitating the birds.

The Harts had been fighting to keep the chickens on their property. The family told Local 6 they were surprised when they learned an anonymous complaint had been made about the chickens.

According to DeBary officials, the Harts live in an area zoned for residential purposes, and agriculture, including chickens, is prohibited.

The Harts appeared before the DeBary Code Enforcement Board to argue their case on Wednesday night.

The deputies canvassed the neighborhood, but were unable to locate any suspects.

The investigation is ongoing.

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