After city officials forced a family to remove a service animal used by their daughter, a family in Ohio has filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
City officials in Blue Ash are forcing the family to remove the animal on the grounds that the animal is "livestock" and not a recognized service animal:
The lawsuit, filed by Housing Opportunities Made Equal, or HOME, and Ingrid Anderson, a mother of a child with disabilities, says the city violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, HOME executive director Elizabeth Brown said.
The service animal, a miniature horse named Ellie, is the size of a large dog and has been trained as a service animal and recommended by Children's Hospital Medical Center for Anderson's 13-year-old daughter Chloe, who has suffered from numerous physical ailments since birth, Anderson said.
Anderson told WLWT the horse helped Chloe break barriers, especially among other children. "Chloe has gained so much social skills because a typical kid is not real likely to walk up to a child in a wheelchair and engage in conversation," she said. According to the lawsuit, a doctor at Cincinnati Children's Hospital recommended the horse for Chloe.
"People have the right to have any service animal in their home if it is recommended by a medical professional," Brown said.
For their part, the city says it has been working with the family for four years, and during that time there have been numerous complaints filed from neighbors about the Anderson's property. Anderson also keeps pigs, rabbits, dogs, roosters, an alpaca (which the family says is also used for service and therapy purposes) and another miniature horse. Their property is 50-foot-by-175-foot residential lot.
Anderson recently moved the other animals to another location until the lawsuit is resolved.
According to Cincinnati.com, the Blue Ash City Council and Hamilton County Municipal Court have ruled the horse is not a service animal according to the law. (Wait, is it really up to them to decide this, though?)
"Blue Ash is enforcing its ordinance and looks forward to being vindicated in court," Blue Ash City Solicitor Bryan Pacheco said.
The next step in the lawsuit is a meeting with a judge for both parties on Feb. 21.
Images via Ingrid Anderson.