An Ohio family is suing the city of Blue Ash for insisting their disabled daughter’s service animal, a miniature horse the size of a large dog, was livestock and had to be removed from their home.
The lawsuit filed by the mother, Ingrid Anderson, and Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) claims the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Fair Housing Act, according to Cincinnati.com.
The mini-horse named Ellie was trained as a service animal and was recommended for Anderson’s daughter, who has suffered from numerous illnesses since birth, by the Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Ellie helps the girl to walk by supporting her and helping her up if she falls.
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The executive director of HOME, Elizabeth Brown, said the group tried to work with city officials, but they refused to see Ellie as anything more than livestock.
Meanwhile, the girl’s condition has worsened since the horse was removed.
The city says it hasn’t done anything wrong.
“Blue Ash is enforcing its ordinance and looks forward to being vindicated in court,” said Blue Ash City Solicitor Bryan Pacheco.
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HOME argues that the ordinance violates fundamental aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“People have the right to have any service animal in their home if it is recommended by a medical professional,” Brown said.
“Miniature horses are not rare as service animals. They are just like seeing-eye dogs … I don’t know why the city insists it is livestock,” Brown added.
New federal guidelines went into effect in 2011 allowing miniature horses to be service animals. The horses live longer than dogs, into their late 20s and early 30s, and can have an extensive relationship with a disabled person.
"You can train them to do some pretty amazing things," Emily Weiss, senior director of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told Today.