Wilmington residents can have farm animals as emotional support animals in their homes

Chickens, pigs and even oxen are now allowed, with a state certification, to be a Wilmingtonian’s emotional support animal–so long as they stay inside the home.

Councilmen Nnamdi Chukwucha presented the proposal to council, and on its third reading and after some back-and-forth debate, it’s now become a city law. The controversial measure passed in a vote 9-3, with 1 absent.

“This substitute ordinance is designed to provide residents and visitors of our city, with access to the resources needed to help them alleviate and cope with emotional and mental disabilities with their support animals,” explained Chukwucha.

However, Chukwucha did get a little heat from some council members.  Councilman Bob Williams called it a “slippery slope.”

“Wilmington has 99 problems and cuddling a farm animal just ain’t one of them,” said Councilman Bob Williams.  “Once we open this barn door and the menagerie is cut loose, we can’t stop it because we can’t even ask the person if it’s a certified animal; you’re prohibited from even asking them; you’re prohibited from asking whether there’s a documented need.  We’re going to put that burden on L&I who is going to have a horrific time trying to prosecute these cases.”

Councilwoman Loretta Walsh also didn’t support the measure.

“I really think this is a state or a federal issue.  I see across the country various things that’s happened with other states, and some type of licensing that those states have given certain individuals, who have problems, and how quickly they become misused,” said Walsh.

Chukwucha said the goal of his proposal was to keep the city in compliance with federal law, which protects only service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act, not emotional support animals.

“This is a recognized need…the VA uses it every single day,” said Chukwucha.  “This allows them to house the animals…they’re not support animals, so you won’t see them in restaurants, you won’t see them in supermarkets or the libraries…this is about fair housing for renters and buyers.”

Walsh said the city has a hard enough time training police officers and ticketing people who block driveways, let alone, policing farm animals as emotional support animals.

The council hopes that by passing this proposal, they will have more say in the process of granting certification to citizens who need emotional support animals.

Read the original article at wdel.com here.

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