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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Asserts Medical Need for Goats & Chickens

CINCINNATI (CN) — A suburb of Dayton, Ohio, faces a federal lawsuit for refusing to let a man keep chickens and goats in his back yard as service animals.

Robert Young says he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has kept four chickens as emotional support animals in his fenced back yard since 2011, and three pygmy goats with them since 2012. His healthcare providers have given him written documentation that all seven animals are emotional-support animals, "as contemplated under the Fair Housing Amendments Act."

He sued Carlisle, Ohio, its mayor and City Council on Monday, for refusing to give him an exemption for his animals.

Carlisle, pop. 5,100, enacted an ordinance in 2015, which "regulates the housing and ownership of chickens and pygmy goats by Municipality of Carlisle residents," Young says in the complaint.

He sent the city a letter asking for an exemption, with documents from his mental health counselor confirming the animals are "needed support" for him, and signatures of neighbors within a two-block radius who say they have no issue with the animals.

But the city replied that it would grant an exemption only if Young got rid of two of the goats, as it "considered the written medical verification ... to be insufficient."

Young calls a malicious act that's doing him irreparable harm.

"Each day plaintiff Young is forced to live with the uncertainty of whether he will be allowed to continue having the support of his ESA [emotional-support animals] chickens and goats on his property, without repercussions from defendants, his mental illness escalates and his mental health decompensates," the complaint states.

It adds: "Defendants have intentionally and maliciously forced plaintiff Young into the impossible choice of continuing to treat his mental injury with his ESAs while also being subject to legal action including daily accruing fines, or losing the medical benefits of his ESAs completely by complying with Ordinance 618.19 and causing irreparable harm to his mental health."

He seeks an injunction and compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

He is represented by C. Raphael Davis-Williams with Spater and Davis-Williams in Columbus.

Defendant Mayor Randall Winkler did not reply to a message placed to his office.

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