Miniature horse causing debate in Spring Hill neighborhood - WFLA News Channel 8

Miniature horse causing debate in Spring Hill neighborhood

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SPRING HILL, FL (WFLA) -

A miniature horse named Daisy is causing some debate in a Spring Hill neighborhood.  
 
The Samaroo family bought Daisy 15 months ago as a companion for their 11 year old son Elijah.
 
Elijah has developmental problems after being born with a chromosomal abnormality.  He also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The Samaroo's home is in an area of Spring Hill that is zoned residential.  No farm animals are allowed.  But the Samaroo's contend their horse, Daisy is providing a valuable service to their son.

"I bathe her. I feed her. I pet her. I ride her" says Elijah Samaroo.
 
Elijah's Mother, Kelly, says, "He's just very calm. You can see a serene look in his face when he's with her. He brushes her, he talks to her and he tells her that he loves her."

Elijah is one of nine foster children the Samaroo's have adopted over the years.
 
They also have seven biological children of their own for a grand total of 16 kids.  Six of the children still live at home.

Last October, the Samaroo's received bad news in the mail.
Someone had anonymously turned them in for having a horse on their residential property.
 
Kelly Samaroo admits they are violating county code by keeping Daisy in their backyard but says, "I do know that I did what I did for all the right reasons as a mother, to benefit my son."

Samaroo says Hernando county officials have been generous in trying to work with them to find a way for Daisy to stay but time is running out.
 
A recent "notice of violation" letter shows the Samaroo's will soon be facing fines of up to 15-thousand dollars a day if they don't get rid of Daisy. K
 
Kelly Samaroo says, "That would put me in financial ruins which is not where we need to be."

The zoning supervisor for Hernando county, Chris Linsbeck, says, "The first offense is a lower fine.  I think it's only $100. Then it escalates until we can get compliance."

Linsbeck also admits, "We know this is a delicate situation with the children being attached."

Cheri Hofman works with the regional office on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.) She thinks the Samaroo's contention that daisy is providing a valuable service to their son may have merit.
 
Hofman says, "Title Two specifically says that they should reasonably modify their policies and procedures in order to accommodate a person with a disability."

And that's why this case boils down to one basic question.  Is Daisy the miniature horse providing a service for this child?

Hernando County says it will further delay fining the Samaroo's until they determine whether Daisy is protected under the ADA.

 

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