Three-year-old J.J. Hart has autism, and traditional therapies weren’t helping. Then his parents got backyard chickens so J.J. could eat fresh eggs, and suddenly he was smiling, chasing the chickens, and holding them. “He’s got a great personality now. He’s got a personality we never thought we’d see,” his mom told

But the story might have a sad ending:

The Harts live in DeBary, Fla., a small town near Orlando. Like many communities, DeBary limits the kinds of animals that can be kept in residential homes. Last year, after the family asked the city council to let them keep their chickens, the community agreed to adopt a one-year “Urban Chicken Pilot Program” that allowed residents to keep chickens in their backyard.

But last week, the city decided to end the program, so the Harts can only keep the birds until Dec. 31.

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DeBary council member Nick Koval basically said rules are rules and DeBary needs to be a fancy, chicken-free place. The town’s mayor disagrees — and so do many people on Facebook, with comments like “What is wrong with you elected officials?” and “Let the kid have his chickens!”

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Here’s hoping the city council reverses its decision. The Harts are certainly fighting it. “People can support us or they can criticize, that’s fine,” his mom said. “But we know what we’re doing was best for our son, and we’re going to fight for him.”

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