Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Spring Hill boy with disability allowed to keep miniature horse

SPRING HILL — A young boy with disabilities will be allowed to keep his miniature horse, his mother said on Tuesday.

"I'm super excited for my son, for all of my kids," said Kelly Samaroo, 52, of Spring Hill, mother of 11-year-old Elijah, who made headlines after Hernando County officials notified his family that his therapeutic miniature horse, Daisy, was a violation of zoning codes.

"Elijah gets what he needs, and the other kids get what they love," Samaroo said.

All six of her adopted children, including Elijah, ride Daisy every day, she said. Elijah, whose genetic disorder renders him afraid of human touch, particularly benefits from his bond with the horse, according to Samaroo.

Chris Linsbeck, the county's zoning supervisor, told Samaroo on Monday that the violation filed against her family would be closed in the name of the federal Fair Housing Act, he said.

In June, Linsbeck submitted a letter from Elijah's behavioral pediatrician to county attorneys, who decided that the horse could stay on Galaxy Drive with the Samaroos.

The letter described Elijah's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and his rare chromosomal abnormality, and described Daisy as a source of comfort and therapy.

"I'm happy for the child," Linsbeck said on Tuesday. "I'm glad to get resolution."

Hernando staff started sending postcards in October last year notifying the Samaroos that no farm animals are permitted on residential property, according to county records. An anonymous tipster had filed a complaint.

Most neighbors spoke positively about Daisy, though one said that she attracted vermin.

"Ever since they've had a horse, I've had rats in the garage," said Diane Kocna, 71, who lives catty-corner from the Samaroos.

Elijah was sitting at the breakfast bar when his mother told him that Daisy will stay, he said.

"I screamed. I was so happy I got to keep her," he said. "Then I fed her mints and carrots."

Alison Barnwell can be reached at (352)754-6114 or [email protected]

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