Guelph woman wins right to keep her therapy pony, Odin

Guelph woman wins right to keep her therapy pony, Odin

Amy Lalonde has been fighting to keep her therapy pony, Odin, in the backyard of her Guelph home since he arrived in April 2017.

After many months of back and forth discussion between Guelph bylaw and the Guelph Humane Society, it was recently decided that Lalonde can keep Odin as her service animal.

In an email to CBC News, David Wiedrick, manager of bylaw compliance for the City of Guelph, said he contacted Lalonde saying that her service animal was permitted.

"I cried," Lalonde told CBC News.

"Knowing that I can keep him and that I'm not going to have to keep proving myself ... makes it easier."

Odin helps Lalonde deal with her post traumatic stress disorder as a result of being abused as a child. She said since Odin has been with her, she has gone from having three panic attacks a day to one a week.

And she is not the only person Odin helps. A group of six women frequently stops by to see Odin, according to Lalonde.

"I give them their space when they come," she said.

"They come and they hang out with him and pet him. They keep coming back so I'm guessing he's helping them."

Controversy in the neighbourhood

Odin has brought a lot of controversy to the neighbourhood since he arrived on Lalonde's property last year.

She was able to keep Odin through an exemption after she provided the city with documents from her doctor saying she needed Odin.

But complaints from neighbours and several visits from the humane society had her worried she would have to move Odin to the country or give him up.

In December, Lalonde received a letter from the humane society and the City of Guelph after the pony was found outside his enclosure. He had wondered to the train tracks near her home after someone opened his gate.

The letter warned Lalonde she would be issued a provincial offences notice if she didn't comply with the bylaw.

But many people in the community signed an online petition in efforts to help Lalonde keep Odin. According to the petition, Lalonde had until May to find the pony a new home.

Even though Lalonde can now legally keep Odin, the city will continue to investigate any complaints. But Lalonde said she can deal with that.

"They're still going to investigate if people complain, but I can handle that. That's no big deal," she said.