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ONLY ON 3: City says autistic boy's chickens must go

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: City says autistic boy's chickens must go

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Dealing with autism can be tough, but some unique perspectives have allowed growth that otherwise may be impossible. Now one family says the City of Wilmington has decided that their approach to help their autistic son is illegal.

The Clarks say ever since their autistic son got three pet chickens, he's changed.

"In the last two years he has really come out of his shell," Deborah Clark said about her son. "He was a very introverted, shy child with no friends. He's doing new things. He's paddle-boarding. He works for the neighbors. He takes risks. Even his teachers have seen a complete change in him in the last two years. He's just a different kid."

The City of Wilmington found out about the chickens and says the Clarks do not have enough land to keep them. Clark says the property is just shy of the half acre needed. She thinks there needs to be an exception. She says she has tried to explain the situation to her son, but he just does not understand.

"It's going to tear him apart, because he has raised these chickens since they were babies," Clark said. "He takes care of them and loves them like their his pets."

Clark says she only has a few weeks to figure out what to do next before the city will enforce the code. She says she plans to look into appealing the decision or may try to get the birds certified as therapy animals so they can stay.

The city said most cases like this are called in because of a neighbor complaint, usually about noise. We spoke to a few of the Clarks' neighbors who say they do not have a problem with the chickens staying. Most said they did not even know the family had chickens in the first place.

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