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Blue Ash Mini Horse Lawsuit Dismissed

July 14, 2014

The fight between the city of Blue Ash and a Blue Ash resident over a miniature horse is over.

United States District Court Judge Timothy Black granted the city a summary judgment, which dismissed the lawsuit by Ingrid Anderson against the city with prejudice July 7. Anderson can appeal with decision in a higher court, but cannot file the case again in the United States District Court.

Anderson and Housing Opportunities Made Equal, or HOME, filed the lawsuit against the city in February claiming that the city violated the Fair House Act and Americans with Disabilities Act by not allowing Anderson to keep a miniature horse at her property. Anderson claimed the horse, Ellie, was a service animal for her 13-year-old daughter with disabilities.

“(The daughter) is a very brave little girl and the city has taken away one of the few joys in her life. We are disappointed that the judge did not think the harm done to this severely disabled child could be legally redressed,” HOME Executive Director Elizabeth Brown said about the dismissal.

A statement from the city of Blue Ash said the decision upheld the farm animal laws of the city.

“The city appreciates the federal court dismissal of this case that would have allowed her to maintain a farm animal at her residential property. Of course, we are sympathetic with the unique challenges associated with the disabilities confronting the child,” the statement read.

Black said in court documents the basis of the argument is that she is allowed to keep the miniature horse on her residential property is because it is protected under Federal law. “(Anderson) must show that the horse assists a disabled individual "overcome or deal with an ADA disability." In contrast, an animal that simply provides comfort or reassurance does not qualify as a service animal under the ADA. The undisputed facts establish that the miniature house is not a "service animal,” Black wrote in court documents.

The city said in court documents that it had received complaints about Anderson having numerous animals on her property, which was causing a health risk. At one point, Anderson had Ellie, six dogs, a pig, an alpaca and some outdoor cats at her property.

Anderson claimed Ellie helped her daughter with hippotherapy, physical and occupational therapy done with horses. The city claimed Ellie was not fully trained to perform hippotherapy and a trained therapist was never present when the daughter used Ellie to move around the backyard. Anderson admitted the same in her deposition.

“Anderson has never explained why the horse must live at her residence other than for her own convenience,” Black wrote, adding there are farms and stables nearby that Anderson could take her daughter to for hippotherapy.

Black also said in court documents that Anderson could have appealed the lower court decisions that found Ellie was not a service animal, which she did not, and the city never violated the ADA or FHA.

“(The city of Blue Ash) has not precluded the Andersons from living in Blue Ash or deprived them of an equal opportunity to "enjoy housing of their choice." (Anderson) never established "that the miniature horse must be housed at her property",” Black wrote.

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