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Kidding around in DePue

DEPUE – DePue is preparing an ordinance that will better regulate service animals not recognized as household pets within the village limits.

Village resident Miranda Baker approached the board earlier this week about a notice she was served by the village marshall to abate “a nuisance on her property” within 48 hours.

The nuisance is a miniature goat, which is a registered service animal for her son who was diagnosed with autism, transient tic disorder, and child and sleep disorder. The goat is specially trained for his needs and has been with the family in DePue for two years, according to Baker.

“Never was nor has there been a complaint about her,” she said. “Most people who have seen her thinks she’s a dog.”

The village currently has an ordinance in place that prohibits the keeping of animals in village limits that aren’t generally considered household pets. The ordinance states “no livestock, foul farm animals or wild creatures can be kept in the village at any time.”

Baker said she had been communicating with the attorney general’s office, and they had advised her to talk with the village board about accommodating the ordinance for her son as it falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Village attorney Jacob Frost pointed out the ADA’s rules and regulations have narrowed the definition of service animal to dog or miniature horse.

Village trustee Lyle Behm asked if there was a way to amend the ordinance to accommodate Baker.

“We’ve never had this situation before,” he said.

Village trustee Roger Harrison agreed with Behm, but questioned where the village would draw the line when the ADA has already narrowed their definition of what they consider a service animal.

“I’m not against Miranda on this issue, I’m for it; but I’ve got to think about the whole community,” he said.

The board ultimately agreed they would have to handle each case separately as it was brought to their attention. They agreed the current ordinance in place would have to be amended to accommodate Baker’s situation.

Frost suggested putting a permitting procedure in place where each case would be submitted to the zoning board, and the person would have to pay a modest application and register fee.

“You could have an ordinance that it’s got to be a miniature animal of some sort, adequate enclosure, and the animals have to be kept in a clean fashion,” he said.

Baker said if it came down to having to pay a fee for the service animal, she would be willing to cooperate with the decision.

The board granted Baker permission to bring her son’s goat back to their house and agreed to not have Frost file a complaint with the circuit court for the case. After questions and details are worked out, they village plans to have Frost write an ordinance to help regulate future cases.

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