Family Fights to Save Chickens
FOX 47 News
Katelyn Anderson is five. She has Cerebral Palsy. When she was two months old she went into cardiac arrest, causing brain damage. Her mom says doctors said she would spend the rest of her life in a vegetative state, and progress was slow, until she discovered chickens.
"I like everything about chickens," said Katelyn.
“Which is your favorite chicken?” Brian Johnson asked Katelyn. “I like all the chickens,” Katelyn replied.
When you meet her, you really understand just how much she means what she says. Seven days a week Katelyn walks about 100 yards from her home to her neighbor's farm just so that she can be with her chickens. That is a feat her mom says doctors said she would never be able to do.
For Katelyn, chickens are therapy.
"She realized it was fun to collect their eggs and feed them. She liked that responsibility of being around them. She liked watching them interact with each other," said Laura Anderson, Katelyn's mother.
“What do you like about the chickens?” Katelyn asks.
There is one big problem, the farmer who lives next door and owns the chickens is leaving Perry. His lives next door to City Councilwoman Karen Davis and says the city has pretty much forced him out of town.
"Since our farm is leaving, our urban farm protection is going with us. So [Katelyn] is going to have the therapy birds stay with her, and now the city is not wanting birds at all." said Steven Godbehere, the chicken farmer who lives across the street from the Andersons.
He says the city is waging a war against chickens.
"The city did an agreement saying that they wouldn't take any legal action [against our farm] as long as we followed some guidelines. We followed them and then the city violated its end. We had the police called on us," said Godbehere. "We tired to take care of the birds in a responsible manner and the city was unreasonable so we just don't want to deal with the city anymore."
"Lansing has chickens, Meridian Township has chickens, Detroit has chickens, huge cities all over the country are allowed to have chickens, but yet a small farming community isn't allowed to?" asked Anderson rhetorically.
"What do you like about the chickens?" Katelyn asked Godbehere.
"I think they are soft and fluffy," said Godbehere.
"Wow," said Katelyn.
Katelyn's mom has worked to move her daughter's therapy chickens to their property, but the city isn't showing any signs of support. She took to the internet asking people for help. As of Thursday night more than 6,000 folks have signed her online petition.
One Perry councilwoman, who earned a masters degree in special education, doesn't see an issue with letting Katelyn keep the chickens.
"Our ordinance is set up where you can have Bantam chickens, which are miniature chickens, and what she has are full sized chickens, so the issue really isn't necessarily the service animal, it's the size of the chicken," said Councilwoman Karen Potter.
The size of the chickens, might stop one little girl from getting the therapy she needs, unless the city council shows support for a disabled child.
"This is a common sense issue," said Potter. "I mean it's really a basic issue of letting these kids keep what they need to live happy and healthy lives."
We reached out to Perry's Mayor Pro-Tem James Huguelet and Councilwoman Karen Davis. Neither returned our emails or phone calls.