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Therapy Pig of Boy with Down Syndrome at Center of Local Law Dispute
By Kelli Bender
Therapy pets are amazing and altruistic creatures; sadly, not all of them are treated equally. According to the Daily Mail U.K., a little boy with Down syndrome may be fined for his pet therapy pig, because the animal is illegal to keep as a pet in his Florida town.
« He doesn’t like things and Tiny Twinkie has a very calming effect on him. It mellows him out, it calms him down, » Kason’s mother, Heather, shared with Daily Mail U.K. « It’s so good for him. He loves her so much. »
Regardless of the positive effects Twinkie is having on the Ray family, the city government of Coral Springs is saying the animal is illegal. A city ordinance says that pigs cannot be kept because the animal is considered livestock. Officials from the city have said they are willing to overlook the rule if the Rays can prove the pet is a medical necessity.
Heather Ray says that she has already tried this, asking the city for a waiver against the law when she first researched therapy pigs. The mother explained that the family could not get a dog or rabbit, due to severe allergies inside the family. She also sent along the documentation asked for by the local government, including a letter of approval from Kason’s doctor.
In addition, Heather Ray has also contacted the Department of Justice for assistance. The department told Ray that Kason has the right to keep Tiny Twinkie because of federal laws that protect American with disabilities.
Even with all of this support, the city says Tiny Twinkie cannot be a certified therapy pet until she is a year old, and will have to continue to take action. The Rays are prepared to fight, working on Tiny Twinkie’s certification and looking into become therapy pet handlers themselves.
« Unfortunately, in our society, you know, people with special needs just are not always accepted … an animal loves you, no matter what, » Heather Ray told the Daily Mail U.K. « They don’t care what you look like, they don’t care how you talk, how you walk … you know, they don’t care, as long as you love them, they love you unconditionally, so that’s very important to him, for us to have that for him. »
For now, Tiny Twinkie is still with the Rays and no legal action has been taken by the city, but the government has made it clear that the family could receive fines of up to $500 a day for keeping the pig. The Rays have made it clear they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep Kason and his beloved pig-friend together. To read the article and see more pictures, read here.