Ohio Family Appeals Service Horse Decision

An Ohio family that uses a Miniature Horse as a therapy animal is appealing a court's decision to dismiss their case to keep the animal at their home.

In February, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), along with Ingrid Anderson, filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Blue Ash, Ohio, on grounds that the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by classifying as livestock the Miniature Horse belonging to Anderson's daughter. Under ADA rules, a trained service horse can be used as an alternative to service dogs in situations where the use of equines would be appropriate. In February, a HOME representative said the case involves a 13-year-old girl with multiple illnesses who uses the animal to get exercise and spend time outdoors.

In response to the original lawsuit, Emily Schaffer, public relations coordinator for Blue Ash, said Anderson previously failed to dispute the findings of the city council and a Hamilton County Municipal Court denying the Miniature Horse service animal status. Additionally, she said the city had received complaints that the horse posed a threat to neighbors' health and safety.

Brandon Craig, HOME compliance manager, said that while the case was pending, the horse stayed at a barn about 40 minutes from the disabled girl's home.

“Because travel was difficult for her, (the disabled girl) had limited interaction with the animal,” Craig said.

In July, Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio Western Division, dismissed Anderson's case.

“The judge issued a summary judgment in favor of the city of Blue Ash,” Craig said.

Anderson is appealing Black's decision to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Craig said.

Schaffer said that while the city is sympathetic to the child's challenges, it will continue to uphold its laws.

“Ms. Anderson’s lawsuit has been dismissed by county and federal courts,” Schaffer said. “While the appeal is disappointing, we will continue to protect Blue Ash citizens’ rights and uphold the laws of the city which preclude maintaining most farm animals on certain residential properties."

The appeal is pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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