Ohio family with mini horse as service animal sues

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Associated Press

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 19 at 1:05 PM

BLUE ASH, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio city is violating federal housing law and protections for people with disabilities by refusing to let a girl keep a miniature horse as a service animal, her mother said in a lawsuit.

Ingrid Anderson and the advocacy group Housing Opportunities Made Equal, or HOME, filed the lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Blue Ash.

A medical center recommended the horse for Anderson's daughter, who has physical ailments, The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1c1G1oi) reported. HOME executive director Elizabeth Brown said the girl uses the horse — which is named Ellie and is the size of a large dog — for support to walk in her yard and to pull herself up after falls.

Brown said Blue Ash officials characterized the horse as livestock and said it had to be removed. She said the group tried to work with the city and that the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati was a last resort.

"People have the right to have any service animal in their home if it is recommended by a medical professional," Brown said.

The city's legal representative defended its stance on the ordinance that prohibits farm animals.

"Blue Ash is enforcing its ordinance and looks forward to being vindicated in court," City Solicitor Bryan Pacheco said.

The lawsuit wants the city prevented from enforcing the ordinance against Anderson's family and all disabled people in similar situations. It also seeks punitive and compensatory damages to be determined at a jury trial.

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