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Blue Ash woman sues to keep miniature therapy horse
BLUE ASH, Ohio (Joe Webb) -- Ingrid Anderson says her daughter's therapy horse, Ellie, is a service animal not a farm animal and she should be allowed to keep her in the backyard.
She's waged a four-year battle with the city of Blue Ash over its zoning ordinance and lost. Tuesday, Anderson joined forces with H.O.M.E.-Housing Opportunities Made Equal and sued the city in federal court.
Anderson's 13-year-old daughter Chloe suffers from a variety of ailments caused by a traumatic birth. She can't walk without assistance and has become too big to lean on her service dog Hope. The miniature horse is big enough. Ellie gives her a measure of independence.
"We can't bring her wheelchair or strollers in the backyard," Anderson said while waiting for the school bus Wednesday afternoon. "This lets Chloe play as a typical kid would want to play. On a playground."
Blue Ash says its ordinances are pretty clear. A horse is a farm animal and can't live on a plot of less than 5 acres.
"Our ordinances are drafted to protect the peace, health, safety and welfare of all our citizens and this is in direct conflict with that," said Assistant City Manager Kelly Harrington.
Harrington says the city has won battles with Anderson in Mayor's court and Hamilton County Municipal Court and is prepared to fight again. She says there's more to the picture than an issue over a service animal.
"We've worked with the family for four years now. This is not a new circumstance and unfortunately we've had so many animals and so many issues from the animals."
She provided Local 12 with several written complaints and photos of Anderson's yard with a pig, alpaca and two horses.
"Noises, smells, feces. Just a lot of problems and complaints from neighbors. I don't see how we could allow this to happen."
The federal lawsuit refers to changes made three years ago in the Americans with Disabilities Act that require cities to change their policies and recognize miniature horses as service animals.
Anderson says the animals are now on a farm in Mt. Orab.