Beverly Family's Emotional Support Chickens Stir Legal Battle With City

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BEVERLY, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Parents in Beverly found significant pushback from the city's Board of Health on the emotional support chickens they keep for their daughter.

7-year-old Raffelle has a learning disability and anxiety disorder, but found solace in caring for the family's hens, her family said.

The family's attorneys at Boston Dog Lawyers said that the chickens are a great source of emotional support and a reasonable accommodation for the girl.

"Her life has changed completely. She's more confident, her need to be responsible for the chickens is a great distraction from any type of negative repetitive thoughts," said Jeremy Cohen of Boston Dog Lawyers.

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But the City of Beverly's health rules do not allow things like chickens to be kept within a 25-foot zone of a residence. In this case, the family's chicken coop is 23.5 feet away from their home.

The family requested that the chickens be allowed as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

"Chickens make great emotional support animals, they love to be held, they have great empathy for their flock and for the people who are around them- they welcome you into the flock. The proof is that Raffelle benefits from it," Cohen said.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports.

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