Pet chickens for autistic boy okayed by Cobb County

As therapy pets for an autistic boy, four chickens will be allowed by the Cobb commissioners for the next year. AJC file photo
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As therapy pets for an autistic boy, four chickens will be allowed by the Cobb commissioners for the next year. AJC file photo

An application for backyard chickens was approved Sept. 18 by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners to help the autistic child of Cecile Ferguson.

For the first time approving backyard chickens, Commissioner JoAnn Birrell agreed with Ferguson’s request to allow four backyard chickens after visiting her in her home. The county staff recommended denial while admitting Ferguson’s request was not in response to any code enforcement complaints. The land use permit is good for one year when Ferguson can apply for renewal.

Also at that time, without having to pay another application fee, Ferguson can apply to have two dairy goats and two sheep - even though she does not have the required two acres but .7 acre. Ferguson told the commissioners that research shows farm animals can be beneficial to autistic children, helping them to develop social and communication skills. She said her 10-year-old son “loves” to be around farm animals.

Birrell told Ferguson, “I do commend you for what you are doing for your son. You definitely have changed my mind.”

Commissioner Lisa Cupid said to Ferguson, “This is a significant shift. It goes to your commitment to your child. For Commissioner Birrell to approve this at all is significant.”

Commission Chairman Mike Boyce told Ferguson, “I’m sorry the procedure is so arduous. We do listen and respond as much as we can. I commend you as a mother. May the Lord be with you.”