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Family fights once again to keep ducks for son with autism in Richland, Lebanon County

A Lebanon County family is once again fighting to keep their son's 8 pet ducks at home.Coby Ortiz, the duck's ...

Posted: Feb. 16, 2018 3:02 PM
Updated: Feb. 16, 2018 3:02 PM

A Lebanon County family is once again fighting to keep their son's 8 pet ducks at home.

Coby Ortiz, the duck's 12-year-old owner, was diagnosed with autism, and Coby's family says the ducks bring him out of his shell.

It's been a debate in Richland for months.

The zoning board first voted 2-1 in favor of allowing the ducks, but now, the borough is appealing that decision and taking the Ortiz family to court.

"You don't think about it, but at some point, you have to define what a pet is," said Attorney Rich Raiders. who is representing the family.

Raiders would call the ducks pets, and so did the Richland Borough Zoning Hearing Board back in December.

"Everyone deserves their pets. It doesn't matter if it's a dog, cat, in this case, they're ducks," said Tania Ortiz, Coby's mother.

In a 2-1 vote, the board allowed the Ortiz family to keep all 8 of their ducks on their property in the borough.

Part of the ruling reads, "no evidence was presented to suggest that the ducks…. in any way… create a threat to the public health, safety, or welfare of the Richland Borough Community."

However, Richland Borough is appealing that decision, calling it quote "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion contrary to law and the record in the case."

FOX43 asked Raiders, "Is the council undermining the zoning board's decision, in a way?"

"Well, they are challenging it, and some people might consider a challenge of what their board said as undermining," stated Raiders.

The Ortiz family says they do not profit in any way from the ducks. The ducks 'quack' for Coby, who was diagnosed with autism.

"They give him a life. They give him a voice. They give him comfort. They calm him down," said Ortiz.

According to Raiders, the case is costing the family and borough taxpayer thousands of dollars.

Still, the family doesn't plan on giving up the ducks.

"There's no law saying I can't have these ducks so to all the people who called me a bad mother, said I'm teaching my child to break the law, told me I need to pack my stuff and leave town, I won't go. I will fight," stated Ortiz.

FOX43 called the borough, but officials would not comment on the case. The attorney representing the borough is out of town and unavailable for comment. Unless the situation is resolved, the family will be in court in late Spring or early Summer.

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