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Woman hopes city will let her keep Odin the therapy pony

'I’ve got my life back. And that’s what scares me, that I might lose it again' says PTSD sufferer
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Amy Lalonde stands in the backyard pen of her Memorial Crescent home last May with Odin, a Shetland pony/mini horse cross. GuelphToday file photo

Amy Lalonde says her tiny therapy horse Odin has helped her get her life back.

Now she’s afraid she might lose it again after being informed by the city that she is in violation of zoning regulations that prohibit livestock in city limits.

The city is currently contemplating its next move.

“It’s unbelievable what a difference a year has made,” said Lalonde of what the one-and-a-half-year-old pony has meant in her life.

“I used to have to lie down and sleep after doing the dishes. I had no energy. Now I’ve got a job, I go for hikes, I’m applying to university,” she said.

“I’ve got my life back. And that’s what scares me, that I might lose it again.”

She has even had six other women visit and spend time with Odin for therapeutic purposes.

“We’re doing a good thing here,” she said.

An online petition in support of Lalonde has garnered 290 supporters.

Lalonde lives with her husband and daughter live on Memorial Crescent, backing on to railway tracks and adjacent to a park and other homes.

She suffers from PTSD, the result of years of childhood abuse.

Last April she brought Odin, a year-old miniature pony, to her home. Building a pen in the backyard to house him and taking him for walks on a trail for additional exercise.

Lalonde originally dealt with the city’s by-law department and thought that notes from her doctor, inspections from a vet and the Guelph Humane Society had settled any concerns.

Dave Wiedrick, manager of bylaw, compliance and security for the city said last May that service animals are eligible for by-law exemptions.

"We've even had a service snake," Wiedrick said last spring.

But in November Lalonde received a notice from the city’s zoning department in stating she had until May to get move the horse out of the city limits.

After a recent phone conversation with the city, she said the city was rethinking their position. If it does rule she has to get rid of Odin, Lalonde has the right to apply for a zoning variance.

She’s waiting for the official word before making her next move.

With City Hall closed this week no one was immediately available for comment.

There have been some complaints from neighbours and earlier this month someone let Odin out of his pen and was found wandering a few streets over.

But Lalonde said that a Freedom Of Information request to the city showed that there weren’t that many complaints from neighbours.

“Honestly, at this point it’s hard to be positive. They’ve asked me to do things and we’ve done them.”