Family of disabled boy whose pony is to be taken away starts a fundraising drive

The mother of the disabled child who may lose his miniature pony -- his only means of moving independently -- because his neighbours (who live next to a cow farm) complained about the smell -- has established a PayPal account to fund the legal work of keeping the pony. That address: .

She has had numerous Caledon businesses ask if they can post a petition for her, has received a number of offers from local stables who would like to house Emily the pony for her, and is constantly fielding calls and letters from people who would like to meet and lend support to Sam and Emily.

"One thing we are considering is planning some sort of meet and greet," said Spiteri. "We have had so many people ask to meet with us, that we want to plan a day where people can visit our property and meet Sam and Emily themselves, see where we house her, and the situation we're in."

According to Spiteri, the Town informed her that the next available committee date will be November 12. Until then, she will work on finishing all of her paperwork, and raising the funds needed for the application. Spiteri said she needs to pay a fee of $800 for the application.

Mother begins work to keep her son's pony (Thanks, Jeremy!)


  1. How could I refuse a donation to aid a disabled boy in his struggle to keep his miniature pony?
    If the bastard people succeed in taking his pony away, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

    $10.00 in the hat for the pony to win!

  2. @Cory: The article quoted in this post reads…

    According to Spiteri, the Town informed her that the next available committee date will be November 12. Until then, she will work on finishing all of her paperwork, and raising the funds needed for the application. Spiteri said she needs to pay a fee of $800 for the application.

    Obviously, November 12 has already passed, but apparently there’s a new date set:

    The Spiteris have to pay an $800 fee to appear before the Caledon committee of adjustment, scheduled for Dec. 10. They will ask the town to make an exception and not force them to re-zone their property to keep Emily. The Spiteris also have to pay an additional $340 to circulate their application for an exception to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

    Link to that story.

  3. Sara Palin’s state boarders Canada- perhaps her gosh darn lovable soccer mom persona along with her esteemed foreign negotiation skills with adjoining countries can save the day!!!

    Or… not

  4. OK, I’ve owned four horses at one time and there was never an odor that would reach a next door neighbor. A mini pony isn’t going to produce a significant amount of manure for the neighbors to smell unless it’s taking a dump on their front porch. That’s ridiculous. It’s the neighbors we should be targeting. Why the hell should the mother have to find a place to board a mini pony?!

  5. good article link there Xeni. More proof the web is power for the people and the politicians better beware.

  6. I know this is going to come across as insensitive but…

    Why didn’t they just get a dog or something like that in the first place for the boy to bond with, instead of a large animal that needs zoning permission. The last post on this topic mentioned that the horse aided his movement.. I think a(n electric) wheelchair would be much more effective at that.

    If they need a fundraiser for this then they obviously didn’t have the necessary sort of money required to keep & maintain such a large animal (without driving them to destitution) either…

    Why did it have to be a horse?

  7. @jarvik7:

    The pony is part of the boy’s physical therapy. From the national post article:

    […]he was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy shortly after birth. The boy can’t walk or crawl, and Emily is part of his therapy regime. […] Sam’s physical therapist and pediatrician recommended equestrian riding because it triggers the core muscles that Sam needs to strengthen. It’s a newer form of therapy […]

  8. @9 JARVIK7

    No doofus! The horse doesn’t aid his movement as a transportation analogue, the act of riding the horse is a therapeutic excercise, both physiologically and mentally. A dog may provide comfort and companionship, a pony gives a lot more. I mean seriously, disclaimer or no – do a bit of research yo! or insensitive thou shallt always be.

    /walks off muttering to oneself

  9. Jarvik7: I think the point is that it is NOT a horse. Looking at the picture (subjective to the height of the mom, which I am guessing to be around 5’5′ this pony isn’t much bigger than a good sized Irish Wolf Hound. An Irish Wolf Hound (a very large breed dog) tops out at around 36 inches, where as a miniature pony will usually be under 38 inches. The feeding and care requirements of either animal would cost roughly the same, all things considered. Of course a dog is not a weight bearing animal and the horse will most likely outlive the dog.

    So if the family owned a large breed dog instead of a miniature pony do you think the neighbor would be raising a stink? Probably. They’d probably be mad if it was a yappy chihuahua too. Some people are just pissy like that.

    I do fully understand your point. It is an unusual choice for a family pet and it does seem a little over the top– however equine therapy has been used successfully with children for quite a while now. Horses have a gentle, intuitive nature that makes them uniquely suited to providing a bonding experience. We have no way of knowing if the family tried a different pet first and failed or if the animal was gifted to them, so it’s hard to know their motivation.

    Most places in the US will provide exception for any therapeutic or service animal regardless of the type of animal it is. Many different types of animals have been used as successful service animals including pigs, monkeys, and horses. When it comes to children with special needs I honestly believe it is the parent’s responsibility to take a “what ever works” position on the type of therapies used to improve a child’s quality of life.

  10. Oh, awesome! Thanks for putting up an update: I was on their Facebook profile yesterday, checking every few hours to see if they had put up a petition they were talking about (never did see it).

    I can’t contribute a lot, but I figure every few dollars help, if nothing else to show support.

    Even though this seems to be a zoning issue, I’m still mad at the shitty neighbours for opening this can of worms for the boy’s family to deal with. What a bunch of inconsiderate asshats, whomever they are. But instead of showing up at their door with pitchforks (aah, the good ol’ days…), I’m glad to be able to put some positive effort into it.

    The little guy doesn’t need more grief in his life.

  11. “…she needs to pay a fee of $800 for the application.”

    REALLY??? !!! ???


    What the HELL kind of place is this that you have to pay 800 bucks to file an application?


    1. What the HELL kind of place is this that you have to pay 800 bucks to file an application?

      It’s pretty normal and a big source of income for towns and cities. The fee covers a bunch of items like a search of permit history and a planning review, all of which take five minutes or aren’t really done. It’s planning theater and you have to buy orchestra seats.

  12. On a related note, I’m now accepting donations of fresh urine to be commingled, concentrated, and delivered to the neighbors who filed the complaint. As an editorial statement. Delivery method to be determined.

    My brother has been confined to a wheelchair for most of his life as the result of a congenital disorder. So this buries the needle on my outrage meter, dead square center.

  13. Of course I wish the family well but not sure it’s our place to demonize the neighbors without first understanding the situation (in this case, my definition of understanding the situation would include hearing from both sides before forming an opinion). This article suggests the neighbors have a long-running feud the details of which aren’t clear:

  14. Ths my b th mst ctnss-drvn stry n bngbng. Wld Cry b pstng ths nts f rthr thn wht by n th sbrbs ndng hs pny, t ws Tyrn n th nnr cty ndng dbrmn t kp th nghbrs frm stlng hs whlchr?

    pt ths n th ncrn chsr rthr thn pltcl dvccy ctgry.

  15. ICKY2000 – According to the article the neighbors who want the pony gone are retaliating against this family not because they are feuding with them but because the family with the pony refused to get involved in a long standing feud between those neighbors and another set of neighbors. It doesn’t really matter though. I don’t care if this kids parents are the biggest jerks on the planet, a rational mature adult doesn’t get even with someone by taking it out on their disabled child. What kind of world do we live in where this is acceptable behavior? They should be ashamed of themselves and we should be ashamed of ourselves if we let this happen.

  16. Of course I wish the family well but not sure it’s our place to demonize the neighbors without first understanding the situation (in this case, my definition of understanding the situation would include hearing from both sides before forming an opinion). This article suggests the neighbors have a long-running feud the details of which aren’t clear:

    Frankly, this article makes the neighbours seem even more petty. The ‘long-running feud’ doesn’t sound like a good reason to penalize a disabled child. If the neighbours had half a chance of sounding like reasonable, compassionate people, we’d hear their side of the story for sure. But it just seems like they acted out of spite and it backfired: they are now perceived by a broader public as the petty people they acted like. Unless they come to the plate and share their insight (or possibly, a reasonable compromise), I don’t feel sorry for them. I put up with noisy/conspicuous/slightly invasive neighbours every day but I know that is the price of living in a community. There are advantages as well.

    If you don’t want to be around and tolerate real people, move deep into the woods and call yourself a hermit.

  17. The neighbors are targeting the kid and his pony because the family would not get involved in a long-running feud? Whew, we must be downwind. I can’t smell the pony from here, but the stench of a cluster B personality disorder or two is overwhelming.

  18. #SNAKEDART: “Delivery method to be determined.”

    I suggest aerial dispersion.

    And same some for the town offices. What kind of place requires you to pony up 800 bucks to appear at a zoning board meeting?


    Let’s be clear – the article doesn’t say the neighbor is retaliating. The horse owner is quoted in the article as alleging that this is retaliation. There is a huge difference.

    This then calls into question your statements about the neighbors lashing out at a child. We have no evidence whatsoever that this is true. All we know is that a neighbor objects to them owning a horse (even a small one) in an area not zoned for such things. This alone is not at all unreasonable.

    Look, if it comes to be true that the tone of this post is correct I’d be the first to condemn the neighbors for being asshats. But I’ve been involved in so many situations in my life where hearing one side of the story sounded so incredibly persuasive until I heard the rest. Any one individual can make any sort of claim they wish to. Am I suggesting the mother of the disabled child is lying? Not at all. I’m merely suggesting that becoming anything other than interested after hearing one side of a story is jumping the gun.

  20. why get into it? Help her change the zoning and keep the horse and leave it at that. The kid is the object.

  21. What the HELL kind of place is this that you have to pay 800 bucks to file an application?

    The suburbs surrounding Toronto. It’s not for nothing that they call it “New York, run by the Swiss”.

  22. I’d like to hear the neighbor’s side of the story. It’s easy to summon an angry mob by standing next to a “disabled child on a pony” and pointing out someone as having “hurt” the child in some way.

    The neighbor is probably being a jerk, but MAYBE the adjacent “working farm” is at the edge of some 3 acre field behind the neighbor’s house on the edge of their property and the pony is pooping 10 yards away. MAYBE its little hooves chop the yard just across from their front door into a muddy swamp festering with manure and horse pee every time it rains. Who knows.

    I lived right across from a severely mentally and physically disabled child for a year, whose residence I was not informed of by my landlord when I moved in asking for a “quiet” apartment. The child’s wheelchair was parked on the courtyard porch seven days a week, throughout the day and into the evening, where the child sat and (with an otherwise calm demeanor) screamed like a horror movie all day into the night. He didn’t seem unhappy, it just seemed like a vocalization he liked to do. I felt empathy for both the child and the family, but it changed the entire quality of my life living there, and that just wasn’t something I had signed up for. Imagine hearing a nightmarishly screaming child no matter where you go in your apartment, every day for a year. Try to complain, and it becomes “heartless neighbor attacks disabled child”. The whole thing left me with a new perspective on situations like this. I’d definitely want the other side of this story before taking up any torches, pitchforks or “urine filled crop dusters”, as some have suggested here.

    So yeah, help her get a hearing in front of a board or whatever. But I hope they listen to whatever the real story is, and don’t just glaze over with the sad/cute overload of a disabled child on a pony. Now I’m going to go activate my urine-filled crop duster shields.

  23. I am just glad at all the people who have nothing to do with this problem who are now standing up in support for this mother and her child.

    Go Boingers!

  24. good points, that’s why I said no neighbor bashing by email. When you are trying to do good, take care not to contaminate it with evil. We all crave justice, but that comes a lot harder than just doing simple good. Who knows, maybe the sight of strangers doing good for someone without censure for someone else might just melt a grinchy heart. Or not. But it is SURE that any attack on the “guilty” WILL close that faint possibility.

  25. This might have been mentioned, but if they do end up having a meet and greet those neighbors are going to get a record number of dirty looks heading their way. And maybe some middle fingers too!

  26. I was thinking the same thing about the meet and greet, petezombie – although perhaps what takuan suggest @ 38 might happen.

    These sods might roll over when they realise they’re feuding with people when others’ first response is to help them. At a certain point you are an asshat if you can’t put aside the smell of a bit of poop for the good of someone disadvantaged.

    And cherrysoda does make a worthwhile point, but this doesn’t sem like a scenario where a boy riding a mini-horse would be that intrusive.

  27. quote:
    “the next available committee date will be November 12″

    ???? Huh???

    Well, it appears BB is getting its info from an article in the [i]Caledon Enterprise[/i] dated Oct. 1/08.

    I imagine more up-to-date info is available through this source:

    Quote: “Anyone interested in sharing their thoughts can contact the family through e-mail:

    Or has BB got any info on how this November 12 committee meeting turned out, since this is now November *30th* ???

  28. Hello and Greetings

    I am Antonia Sam’s mother and owner of Emily,

    First I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support and say sorry it has taken me so long to figure out that I didn’t have to have a blog to be able to respond.

    I also want to thank those who have chosen to support the other side so to speak. As this is what gets people thinking and talking.

    ok where to begin,

    First for those who have voiced concerns over Emily’s well being. I esure you she is well taken care of (if this was an issue she would have already been removed from the property by the
    animal protection services). Emily is not a fully pony. She is a Mini Pony (there is a difference I encourage if you are interested to read up on them they are amazing animals). They do not need to “graze” actually its not good for them (They need to be contained and housed “Dry Lot” meaning in a smaller pen with dirt not grass this is without getting into all the details because eating the rich grass causes stomach problems and severe feet issues.

    We did do our homework that way before getting her. As far as the bi-law homework we thought we were well within are rights. Our Tax papers state we are Farm Residental(and therefore we could have live stock we have had farm animals on our land for 30 yrs we have been living here). So that fact that the town states we are rural residental was a complete surprise.

    Now the fund set up is not because we cannot pay for the regular care of Emily(we have been for the last 3 yrs). The fund was because many people contacted the media and myself requesting to help with the fees and other cost with taking this to the committee.

    I am extremely grateful to all those who donated and explained that the funds are being used for that purpose and as well as they will be used for the purpose of getting the law to protect the rights of both the disabled to have assistant/therapy animals (and ensure the health and safety of these animals of course).

    Okay that was long and I know that alot is still left unanswered and unsaid so ask away and I will try my best to answer (for those who have written me personal thank you I have read all of them and am trying my best to write you all back as quickly as possible, I will get to you sorry its taking me longer then I thought)

    Thank you all

    Antonia and Family

  29. Oops sorry forgot to mention

    that the meeting was going to be on the 12 of nov. but that didn’t give us or the committee enough time to prepare etc so it was set for Dec. 10th at 1pm.

    Also with regards to the funds – some people have stated and requested that the funds they sent be used for other purpose such as putting it aside for Sam as he gets older, or for gifts (christmas) etc wanting the money to go to that, We we are etremely grateful and touched by all of this…people who have requested I have noted and those funds will be used for those reasons.

    If you want to know what gifts he is getting for chirstmas I will let you know lol…Emily will be getting a new blanket( and apples from Santa or so Santa told us)..but the biggest gift we are hopeing for is for Emily to stay as that is all Sam and his brother are asking for this year

    Thank you

  30. Welcome to BoingBoing Antonia.

    Hopefully, if you have time, we’ll see you around the other threads, too. And please do keep us up to date with your progress.

    Good luck! We’ll be thinking of you and your family :)

  31. Okay.. shed a couple of tears here, at work ;) Yet again you boingers make me think there is hope for the human race after all.

  32. Yay, good luck Antonia! I’m sending out postive vibes for you today!

    This is the problem with ever expanding suburbanism. Middle aged cranks who find Toronto to be too busy, move out to Caledon thinking that it’s going to be a great little suburban utopia. Then they are shocked that people live out there with working (if small) farms. Oooh, and do farms ever stink! Well, let’s cause a ruckus then! Listen, jerkasses… If you want someplace quieter than Toronto with no farmland, move to Oakville.

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