Benton City man not horsing around to keep his service animal - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton City man not horsing around to keep his service animal

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BENTON CITY, WA - We've all seen service dogs, but what about service horses? One man in Benton City is taking the fight to keep his miniature service horse all the way to the federal government.

The attorney for Benton City told reporter Mackenzie Allen that the code only lists allowed animals because listing the animals not allowed would be too lengthy. Another attorney she spoke to disagreed and said the code relies on the citizens to interpret what the city means, and that vagueness could make it unconstitutional.

"Fred's my friend, period."

Tim Fulton is dying of cancer. It's a fate he says he's accepted, but his condition causes him to get dizzy and lose his balance. He uses his service animal - a 37-inch tall miniature horse named Fred - to keep him from falling.

"He walks behind me and he sees me start to wave, and he'll pull up alongside and I'll put my hand out," said Fulton. "And if I'm not doing good enough he'll actually just get in front of me."

Fulton says his quality of life depends on Fred.

"I walk four to six miles every day. Dogs can't do that."

But he's been locked in a fight with Benton City for months after they issued him a $100 citation and forced him to move Fred from his backyard to a pasture a few miles away.

"I'm not going to pay a fine on a law that doesn't exist," Fulton said. "If they can say the law is implied, well the payment is implied. Now we're even."

Washington state code prohibits cities from discriminating against service animals. Benton City declined to speak with Mackenzie Allen and sent her to their attorney, who would not speak on camera. He said Fulton has not provided sufficient evidence to prove that Fred is both necessary and reasonable.

Fulton does not have an attorney of his own, but has contacted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and says they're investigating whether his civil rights have been violated.

"I never wanted it, I tried to explain it, back in October, and the people I was talking to, maybe it was just that they couldn't say I'm wrong," he said.

Fulton told Mackenzie that he is not going to give up the fight to get Fred back home, but for now, he is keeping him at the other pasture out of fear that the city might try to impound...and euthanize his friend.

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