Charge withdrawn against Calgary woman fighting to keep emotional support hens
A Calgary woman who has three emotional support hens no longer has to go to court to fight a charge for breaking a city bylaw — at least for now.
Nikki Pike is a survivor of sexual abuse and the three chickens are doctor-prescribed to help her cope with severe anxiety and depression.
The city has now withdrawn the ticket against Pike under the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.
Following a Global News series highlighting the issue, Ward 3 Councillor Jyoti Gondek put forward a notice of motion to explore allowing non-traditional emotional support animals within city limits.
The issue received unanimous support by council.
“We have been consulting with mental health professionals with our partners in the province at Alberta Health Services and we’re preparing a document to go back to council which will probably be in the fall on this year,” Calgary’s Chief Bylaw Officer Alvin Murray told Global News Monday.
Murray said if council approves amendments to the bylaw, it would likely be on a case-by-case basis with documentation from mental health professionals.
If council doesn’t approve changes to the bylaw, Pike’s charge could be re-laid.
“I want to be clear that it doesn’t mean that it’s a free-for-all now and we would still will be enforcing the bylaw and charges could be laid later on again,” Murray said.
Pike has had her three hens for just over a year now. She said they’ve made a huge difference in her quality of life.
“I feel like I’m way more productive,” Pike said.
“My ability to cope daily has significantly improved. I’m working part time now, like all the things that I’m capable of doing far exceed what I was able to do over a year ago.”
Pike said she has faith the city will see the need for exemptions.
But, if council doesn’t amend the bylaw, she said she’s committed to taking the issue back to court.
“Absolutely, this is totally a human right. This is my mental health and I need people to understand that I will fight for it.”
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