Update March 8, 2012: That is indeed our Jeff Crilley, who responded to my query. Jeff is helping the Estates of Legends Ranch HOA smooth over this ruffle — and what a ruffle it was! But they have a very good man helping them make nice.
Well, we know Texas HOA’s are pretty strict, but this story might make you spring for joy. Down in Spring, Texas, near Houston, Nick and Jeni Dreis brought home a 6-month-old red kangaroo as a vocational training animal for their 16-year-old daughter Kala, who has Downs syndrome. Kala named the kangaroo Mike, who the Dreises were grooming to assist disabled persons in a future organic park and wildlife preserve near Conroe , according to ABC News reported.
But then, their local homeowners association refused to allow Mike in the subdivision.
The Dreis family received a letter from the Estates of Legends Ranch Homeowners Association last February 20, demanding that they “immediately remove the kangaroo from the property, as it is not a household pet, nor can it be maintained for any business purposes.” That HOA meant business: the Dreises were instructed to “correct the violation immediately.”
This is where we love the power of the press: when the situation was made public, the Dreises were bombarded with support for the family from across the globe. And so on March 1, the HOA reversed its position.
“The letter should never have been sent,” Jeff Crilley — is this OUR Jeff Crilley? — of the Estates of Legends Ranch Homeowners Association told The Houston Chronicle — click here to see some heartwarming photos of the joey, little Mike. “They [HOA officials] were unaware that the kangaroo was being used for therapy purposes.”
So Texas HOAs do have a heart after all. Not so in some other states.
AOL Real estate reports that the Veloudis family in Lexington, Ky., who built a medically-mandated playhouse for their 3-year-old son Cooper, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was similarly prohibited by their HOA for having something unusual that helped their child..
The Veloudis’ HOA demanded the playhouse be “removed” immediately. Despite support from the press and wider community, their HOA continues to stand by their decision that the playhouse “violates deed restrictions” and must be removed. The family apparent can hang onto the playhouse “temporarily”.
Down in Spring, the Dreis family, a bit miffed at the extremes they had to go to, plan to keep Mike for about a year before moving him to a wildlife park. The case raises an interesting point: where do you draw the line on animals?
According to The Chronicle, eighteen states and the District of Columbia ban all exotic animals. Texas is one of only 12 states that allow them, subject to some permitting requirements. And the rules vary across the state: Harris County allows it. According to BornFree USA, it is unlawful to possess or harbor a prohibited animal within Dallas city limits. Prohibited animals include poisonous reptiles, ostriches, rheas, all non-domesticated cats, wolves, bears, all primates, and deer, bison, camels, and antelope. The Public Health and Environmental Services agency regulates animals the Commissioners Court has deemed dangerous and in need of control, such as cougars, tigers, elephants and coyotes.
And the Humane Society of the United States wants to get tougher, says Nicole Paquette, the society’s senior state director in Texas. Citing our lax laws on private ownership of exotic animals, Paquette says Texas requires registration of 19 species of animals.
That does not include Kangaroos. So what do you think? Would you want a Kangaroo — or a wild tiger — as a next-door neighbor?