Mini-horse causes big dispute

Sunday, August 3rd 2008, 6:46 pm
By: News 9

By Jeffery Smith for NEWS 9

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- A Broken Arrow man is pursuing an unusual case in court over keeping his miniature horse in his backyard.

"They're not a beast of burden, and for that reason, they are bred specifically for companionship," the miniature horse's owner Greg Copeland said.

Copeland bought the horse, Dakota, six months ago for his son who is allergic to cats and dogs.

"You can't really hug a gerbil, a hamster or a turtle," Copeland said.

But some neighbors had a problem with a horse just roaming around.

"They were concerned about the odor and the perception of this animal in the backyard, and just simply feel it doesn't belong there," said city spokesman Keith Sterling.

Sterling said it violates a city ordinance that states it is unlawful to keep cows, goats, sheep or horses on residential land.

"The only exceptions would be if the neighborhood covenants say otherwise," he said.

Copeland said the covenant in his neighborhood rules that residents can't have animals, excepts dogs, cats and household pets.

Some residents wanted to know if Dakota should be considered a household pet.

"It is a horse, and this is a typical residential neighborhood with smaller lots very close together," Sterling said. "The ordinance says what it says, we cant pick and choose, well let's enforce it over here, but then not enforce it over here."

But Copeland said Dakota is smaller than some of his neighbor's dogs.

"I give him much more room to roam here than he'd have at a stall somewhere," Copeland said. "This is America, it's not Nazi Germany. It's not communist Russia. You've got neighbors that are trying to enforce their personal preference in the neighborhood."