Petition Closed
Petitioning Council Member Nick Koval and 8 others

Allow for the keeping of Autistic 2 yr old JJ's "ducks" (chickens) in the City of DeBary

Joshua James (JJ) Hart was born March 23,2010. He is the youngest of three boys. He has an older brother Jarrett (11yrs) and another older brother, Matthew (3 yrs). From the time Joshua (JJ) was just a few months old, his parents knew something was wrong, but couldn’t quite pin point it.

When JJ’s mom (Ashleigh) took him for his 1 year checkup she discussed with his pediatrician the issues that

 she and JJ’s dad (Joe) were seeing. He wouldn’t make eye contact, he was not babbling, he would tense up, he walked at 12 months old, but then a few weeks later reverted to doing nothing, he could withstand extremely hot temperatures without noticing, he would not ride in a grocery cart or car without screaming, he was sensitive to “normal” noises, he had several upper respiratory infections and a clogged tear duct. 

The strange thing was that JJ was nursed from the day he was born until he was 14 months. Most nursed babies have LESS upper respiratory infections. JJ’s clogged tear duct was so bad that when he was 14 months old, he was scheduled to have surgery. The week before JJ was scheduled to have eye surgery, Ashleigh and Joe took him to Early Steps in Daytona to be evaluated by a Speech Therapist, and a Developmental Psychologist. Joshua was deemed to possibly have Autism. 
As soon as JJ’s parents learned this, they immediately changed his diet to Gluten Free Casein Free diet. Ashleigh stopped nursing, placed JJ on almond milk and introduced JJ only to FRESH GFCF (Gluten Free Casein Free) foods. JJ was immediately scheduled for Developmental Therapy through the Early Steps Program. His parents also immediately placed JJ into Occupational Therapy and as soon as he was old enough, he was placed into Speech Therapy. 

In February 2012 the Hart’s son, Joshua James was officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Expressive speech and language delay, hypotonia and gross motor deficits. Ashleigh and Joe would do anything for their kids and although they were devastated to learn the diagnosis, they embraced it. Ashleigh and Joe did their research on ASD and took JJ to a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) Dr. This Dr. informed Joe and Ashleigh that diets are IMPORTANT. These days no one REALLY knows what is in their food. Dyes, preservatives, growth hormones etc. Through further research, the Harts learned that animals can be used as therapy for children with ASD . Ashleigh and Joe started with an egg from the grocery store and worked with JJ. Through this, JJ learned cause and effect. When he would tense up with the egg in his hand, the egg would break and his hands would become a gooey mess. This was not only a great way to teach cause and effect to their son JJ, it was also educational for their other two sons, Jarrett (11 yrs) and Matthew (3 ½ yrs). The older boys started asking questions like “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” As their “cause and effect” research went on, Ashleigh and Joe noticed that not just JJ, but the entire family went through a lot of eggs. Egg sandwiches, egg salad, deviled eggs, baking etc. After further research of their own, Ashleigh and Joe learned that the “cage free”, “organic” eggs that they were spending $5 a dozen on, were not TRUE cage free, organic eggs. They also researched how to get their own fresh food and know exactly what is in the food that they eat. ALL of this lead to the research of BACKYARD chickens.

After nearly EIGHT months of having our feathered friends, the City of DeBary is threatening to take JJ's pets and source of FRESH eggs away. But not for reasons you might think: NOT because they are unsanitary, noisy, nuisance animals. Because of TWO complaints from ONE person who is not even a neighbor. His complaint? "CHICKENS". The City, took the un-necessary complaint of ONE person (who for the record has complained about 'his" neighbors over 200 times this past year) and decided that it was necessary to pursue, even though it would negatively affect the LIFE OF A CHILD.


Letter to
Council Member Nick Koval
Vice Mayor Chris Carson
Council Member Lita Handy-Peters
and 6 others
Council Member Dan Hunt
MAYOR Bob Garcia
City Manager Dan Parrott
Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
Leaders of DeBary, FL, and State of Florida,
I respectfully request that you take into serious consideration the life of a child, but not just the life of a child, the life of an autistic child who needs your support!

Imagine not being able to speak for yourself, imagine people making decisions for you that are NOT in your best interest. Imagine how that would make you feel. Imagine, if you will, being trapped in your own mind and not being able to relate to anyone. Then, imagine finding that ONE thing that can draw you out, help you communicate, capture your attention,comfort you. For some of you, that may be your dogs. For JJ, it is his chickens.

The Hart's have had JJ's "ducks" (chickens) since February of this year. They have had numerous people on their property (1 acre) and each and every person has stated how "clean" the coop is kept, how it does not smell, the lack of "noise", (especially considering the Harts live right next to a school and busy road and in a neighborhood with barking dogs who occasionally run free), but most importantly everyone, EVERYONE who has been to the Harts residence has seen the positive effect that the chickens have on JJ. These chickens have helped him on more than one level, from diet (eggs) to exercise (running to pick up a chicken) to making chicken sounds, to relating them to a Curious George show about Ducks.

Taking JJ's chickens away may be detrimental to his health and progression. Anyone who knows psychology and just a little bit about autism knows that a child with autism craves stability, structure and things that he/she can relate to. These "ducks" are something that JJ relates to and LOVES and they are NOT hurting anyone, but they ARE helping this little boy.

Please take all of this in to serious consideration before making your final decision. For once you make your final decision, it will be made for all the world to see and it will greatly affect the life of a very special 2 year old autistic boy, Joshua James Hart. Please make a positive affect on this little man's life, as he is our future.

This is YOUR opportunity to make JJ "DEBARY's Child" As First Lady Clinton said, "It takes a village to raise a child"

Ashleigh Hart started this petition with a single signature, and now has 2,087 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.