NORTH HAVEN, Conn. – Officials in a Connecticut town have settled a zoning dispute over a local girl's 20-pound pet bunny after receiving calls and emails from across the country demanding that the rabbit be allowed to stay.
North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda said Friday that the town will allow 7-year-old Kayden Lidsky and her family to keep the Flemish giant named Sandy and change the zoning rule that led to a cease-and-desist order three weeks ago. The rule bars anyone from keeping rabbits and other livestock on properties smaller than 2 acres.
The town's zoning enforcement officer issued the cease-and-desist order while investigating a neighbor's blight complaint against the Lidsky family, whose property is less than 2 acres.
"All along I've said that little girl is not losing that rabbit," Freda said. "We have a ridiculous ordinance ... and we're going to change it."
The Lidsky family, however, interpreted the cease-and-desist order to mean that they had to get rid of Sandy. Josh Lidsky, Kayden's dad, had planned to appeal the order to a town board.
"I'm happy it's over," Josh Lidsky said. "I'm saddened that it had to go as far as it did. It's very tough for a 7-year-old to understand why people would do something like that. She's cried nightly."
Kayden tells the New Haven Register she's "excited" that she can keep it.
Since the dispute hit the news last week, nearly 4,400 people have signed an online petition on change.org urging the town to not force the family to give up the rabbit.
Freda said he's also spoken to and exchanged emails with about 1,000 people nationwide.
The ordinance was put in place about 50 years ago when North Haven was a large farming community, and it was designed to prevent people from raising and selling rabbits and other livestock on less than 2 acres in competition with farmers, Freda said.
Freda said the new ordinance will allow rabbits to be kept as pets.