After months-long fight, Maine man can keep emotional support chickens

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C-Jay Martin has had important bodily and cognitive challenges his complete life, however has typically gone about his days fortunately.

In recent times, although, his mom seen he started to have anxiousness and melancholy, and it was extreme.

Amy Martin researched methods to assist her son, who’s 25, and determined based mostly on his talents, she needed to get him an emotional assist animal. Additional analysis earlier this 12 months pointed her in a single course: a flock of chickens.

They are often social, pleasant, cuddly and so they’re typically low upkeep, she mentioned. She examine how chickens — which turned well-liked emotional assist animals throughout the pandemic — could make wonderful remedy pets, as they are often calming, and so they bond simply with people. The issue, she realized, is that the place they stay, in Bangor, Maine, town doesn’t permit yard chickens.

The extra she researched the extra she thought they’d be good for her son, ideally offering him with a way of function and companionship, she mentioned, and their “hen chatter” could possibly be comforting background noise for her son, who has anophthalmia, and was born with out eyes.

C-Jay Martin is lacking one-third of his mind and half of his proper lung, and his coronary heart is on the appropriate aspect of his physique relatively than the left. He additionally has autism, epilepsy and ADHD. C-Jay is a social individual, his mom mentioned, and pandemic-induced isolation took a toll on his psychological well being.

“He wasn’t speaking to individuals. He was simply depressed and full of hysteria,” Amy Martin mentioned.

Being round animals like chickens, she thought, may assist him heal.

“He simply loves animals, and he’s unbelievable with them,” mentioned Amy Martin.

C-Jay Martin mentioned he has a delicate spot for all creatures, regardless of how massive or small.

“I don’t have a favourite,” he mentioned.

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Amy Martin additionally realized that chickens are typically light, and given their small measurement, they’d not pose a hazard to her son — which was an vital issue.

“Some are actually cuddly,” Amy Martin mentioned.

Her yard — which is simply over a 3rd of an acre — is nicely suited to having chickens, and he or she deliberate to construct a coop for them.

She consulted together with her son’s physician, who agreed that chickens could be an excellent match for him. The physician wrote C-Jay an emotional assist animal prescription — which his mom thought could be useful due to town ordinance in opposition to residents retaining fowl.

The method to be granted an exception to the legislation, Amy Martin realized, was more difficult and sophisticated than she anticipated. She first contacted metropolis officers within the Division of Housing and City Improvement in February to ask for an affordable lodging to the rule — that means she could be given an exemption and allowed to maintain chickens. However she wasn’t given clear solutions, Amy Martin mentioned, and after a number of makes an attempt to get assist with the method, metropolis officers instructed her to submit an utility to the Bangor Board of Appeals.

“I wasn’t trying to file an attraction,” she mentioned, explaining that she thought she ought to have been granted the affordable lodging, and knew an attraction could be a prolonged course of. “We’re not getting chickens so we are able to promote eggs. That is to accommodate a incapacity, so the method needs to be completely different.”

Based mostly on what Amy Martin learn on the U.S. Division of Housing and City Improvement web site, she believed she may get the chickens, after which file an attraction to maintain them after the actual fact. So, as soon as she talked to her neighbors to ask if they’d be OK with it, and allow them to know she had began the appeals course of, that’s what she did.

In April, she obtained six chickens, which she discovered via a Fb group known as “Maine Yard Chickens.”

Amy Martin mentioned she instantly noticed her son’s temper raise, particularly when he would snuggle with them and provides them seeds to snack on. He thrived on the routine of taking care of them, she mentioned.

He named them Stella, Salty, Popcorn, Cheeks, and Pepper. He’s nonetheless deciding the sixth hen’s title.

“He fell in love with them,” Amy Martin mentioned, including that her son volunteers within the Bangor neighborhood, together with at an area church, a meals financial institution and Ronald McDonald Home. “He has extra of a cause to go outdoors. He will get very excited.”

The chickens additionally get alongside nicely with Amy Martin’s cat, Spoofy, and rescue canine, Marley.

“She protects them like she’s a hen guard canine,” Amy Martin mentioned about Marley.

Hoping to keep away from submitting an utility to the board of appeals, Amy Martin determined to file a criticism in opposition to town with the Maine Human Rights Fee in April, claiming Bangor was discriminating in opposition to her son by not giving him an exemption to the no-chicken rule. Following an investigation, the Maine Human Rights Fee discovered no proof of discrimination.

Amy Martin was annoyed. She determined to file a request with the Bangor Board of Appeals in August and was given a listening to date of Oct. 5.

A number of individuals confirmed as much as the listening to to advocate for The Martins and their chickens, together with Imke Jandrau, who lives a block away.

“How on earth did we put this household via months of agony and anxiousness, questioning in the event that they have been going to maintain these pets?” mentioned Jandrau. “That’s nerve-racking for C-Jay, it’s nerve-racking for Amy, and I believed it was simply pointless.”

For the neighbors, Jandrau mentioned, the chickens haven’t been a disturbance.

“Amy is absolutely, actually accountable, so I do know she’s retaining issues appropriately saved and retaining public well being in thoughts,” Jandrau mentioned, including that noise hasn’t been a difficulty, both. “If that is what he must thrive, let’s be supportive of it.”

Jeff Wallace, the director of code enforcement for town of Bangor, additionally spoke on the listening to, and mentioned that the chickens are usually not a public well being risk. Some neighbors expressed fear that the chickens may appeal to rats, although Wallace mentioned “I’ve no cause to imagine” the chickens would create a rat challenge within the neighborhood.

Since Amy Martin obtained the chickens in April, Wallace mentioned he has not acquired any complaints about them.

The five-member board of appeals voted unanimously to permit the Martins to maintain their emotional assist chickens.

“It was a convincing assist,” Wallace mentioned in a telephone interview with The Washington Submit, including that he believes the media protection and neighborhood encouragement performed a job within the consequence. The story was first reported within the Bangor Each day Information.

Amy Martin mentioned she is grateful for the outpouring of assist from her neighbors, and he or she hopes her household’s story will assist set a precedent, in order that others of their place have a better time getting via the method.

“Once we struggle for one thing, we struggle for everybody,” she mentioned.

Two days after the listening to, “we obtained our first egg,” Amy Martin mentioned. “It’s so thrilling.”

The chickens have helped C-Jay Martin in all they methods Amy Martin had hoped, she mentioned. On troublesome days, particularly, “it’s a great way to divert him to positivity.”

C-Jay Martin mentioned he’s thrilled he can maintain his chickens — that are all feminine, as male chickens, that are thought of roosters after one 12 months, might be loud.

“He deserves to have his chickens,” Amy Martin mentioned. “They assist him to manage and make sense of his world.”

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