Therapy animals provide an incredible amount of support and assistance to the people they help. There are actual service animals, usually dogs, that are extensively trained to provide care and life-saving assistance to people with disabilities. But there are also emotional support animals that many people rely on for a variety of reasons. Emotional support animals can be pretty much anything (does anyone remember the woman who tried to fly with her emotional support peacock?).
The Federal Housing Amendments Act of 1988 protects emotional support animals and considers them a reasonable accommodation (although they do not have the same federal protections as trained and registered service animals). A little boy from Georgetown, Township in Michigan is fighting to keep his own emotional support animals, after neighbors called them a nuisance. These aren't your usual therapy dogs, though.
Dylan has two emotional support DUCKS. Yes, you read that right! Nibbles and Bill are Dylan's best friends. You see, Dylan has autism, and Nibbles and Bill help keep him calm and practice his emotional regulation. Sure, ducks might not be typical therapy animals.
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But Dylan and his waterfowl friends have developed quite the bond.
The ducks have a pen in the backyard of the Dyke family home. When Dylan is outside with them, they're allowed to roam freely. That, say the family's neighbors, is the problem. Several neighbors have lodged complaints against the family and their ducks, saying that the fowl stray from the property and poop on other people's lawns, beaches, and patios.
The town has asked that the ducks be removed, but Dylan's psychologist believes taking them away would cause Dylan severe and significant emotional distress. Dylan's parents and lawyer also content that the ducks are protected under the Fair Housing Amendments Act that we mentioned earlier.
The Dyke family and the home owner's association are trying to come to amicable solution, but Dylan's parents are prepared to take their cause to court if the need arises. They've set up a GoFundMe to raise money for their legal expenses, and are hoping that a hearing in late August will go their way, and Dylan will be allowed to keep Nibbles and Bill.