Lanark Highlands man hoping to keep emotional support roosters

Lucky, Levon, and George are roosters (one of them is not pictured), that help Paul Labrosse deal with his depression and PTSD. (Dylan Dyson / CTV News Ottawa)

Paul Labrosse lives deep in the woods near Lanark Highlands and says he’s been happier since acquiring his emotional support animals about a month ago.

Lucky, Levon, and George are roosters, and help Labrosse deal with his depression and PTSD.

“I got them due to the COVID thing, but since I got them I just grown so attached to them,” says Labrosse.

His favourite rooster, Lucky, roams free on Labrosse’s property. 

“They’re priceless. He runs to me in the morning, he coos, he sleeps on my doorstep every night.”

However, the roosters have been ruffling the feathers of Labrosse’s neighbours, some of whom filed a complaint with the Township of Lanark Highlands. Neighbours say the roosters cause a disturbance throughout the day and that Labrosse has been non-compliant with the township.

“I’m being told by the township that they don’t recognize therapeutic or emotional support animals in Canada,” according to Labrosse, who even received a letter of support from his doctor to keep the animals.

“I’m writing this letter in support of Mr. Labrosse being allowed to keep his roosters on his property, since for him they are his emotional support animals. Due to his mental health issues he’s been benefitting greatly from their company, and the prospect of not having them around him causes a great deal of stress and poses a risk to emotional wellbeing.”

A statement from the Township of Lanark Highland says in part, “The Township received a complaint about some roosters being kept on a property. This specific circumstance was found to be in contravention of the Township's zoning by-law [...] Until an application is received and approved, the Township would require a property owner to comply with the zoning by-law. ”

Decision coming from the township

Labrosse says the issue has been escalated to a decision at Lanark Highlands’ council meeting on July 14th. If the township decides against Labrosse’s claim to have the animals on his property, Labrosse says he’s been given until July 17th to remove them, or face a fine of up to $25,000 per occurrence.

“It would be distressful to me, [...] to move them [off the property] is putting them in harm’s way. There’s foxes, coyotes, fishers, bears, owls. I’ve seen everything here.”