Perry Woman Address City Council Over Therapy Chicken Fight

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

As Laura Anderson told the Perry City Council, Tuesday night, her argument is simple.

"They are not pets. They are therapy animals," she said.

For the past several months, Anderson's five-year-old daughter Katelyn, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has used chickens that live on a small urban farm across the street as a means of therapy.

They've helped her walk and progress much farther than doctors thought possible, but the farm is moving and Anderson wants to keep eight chickens to continue that progress.

"I hope she doesn't end up regressing like I know she has in the past," said Anderson about Katelyn.

Last month, Anderson's first attempt to resolve the issue ended with Zoning Administrator Leland Scott advising her to request a variance on the city's pet ordinance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The ordinance allows chickens, but not the full-sized ones that Anderson wants to keep.

But Anderson says therapy chickens aren't pets and that's what she told the council, Tuesday.

"I don't see any ordinances against the keeping of therapy animals within city limits," she said.

Several from Perry and beyond came in support of Anderson, including Jessica Hudson, who is fighting her own battle with Williamstown Township to keep farm animals at her home.

However, some pointed to concerns over smells and sounds that come with raising chickens as reasons they don't support the Andersons' request.

"The children need help, I'm sure they do, but why can't she get dogs? Why can't she get cats?," said Linda McDaniels, who lives near the Anderson family.

Scott says it's not an issue of smells, but an issue of the rules.

"My stand is simply that ordinances are ordinances and when I met with her, I explained that to her," he said.

That's why Scott is sticking with his initial advice. Request a variance on the pet ordinance.

"That's as far as the city can go and I stand behind the ordinances," he said.

Anderson says she plans to request a variance as soon as possible.

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