Court Considers If Miniature Horse Is A Pet

Thursday, February 5th 2009, 6:10 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OK -- A miniature horse is causing big problems for a Broken Arrow neighborhood.  Dakota is a pint sized horse living in the home of the Copelands.  A jury will decide if the neighborhood's covenant was violated when Dakota moved in.

08/03/2008  Related Story:  Neighbors Say Neigh To Mini-Horse

You could call the miniature horse a household pet of a different color.

"He's an awesome pet. My boys love him. I got him for my children," said Greg Copeland.

An unusual pet that's causing problems. And, now the Copelands and their neighbors are in court, fighting over the definition of a household pet.

"Who's to tell our family what is and is not a household pet and then call it a crime if you follow the language of the covenant," said Greg Copeland.

The neighborhood covenant allows dogs, cats and household pets. The City of Broken Arrow says it's illegal to keep cows, goats, sheep or horses on residential lands.

"Broken Arrow also allows miniature pigs.  This horse is much cleaner.  It's gentle, and there's no reason not to allow this kind of pet," said Greg Copeland.

"He knocks on the door. He'll knock three times. And, if we don't open it by then, he puts the doorknob in his mouth and he turns it.  He lets himself in," said Brenda Copeland.

The neighbors declined to speak with The News On 6, but they have their reasons for taking the case to court.

"There were a number of complaints from the neighbors there, again concerned about smell, and about appearance, and also some neighbors that expressed concern for the horse itself," said Keith Sterling with the City of Broken Arrow.

For now, Dakota remains the dark horse of the household pet family.

"It's extremely silly," said Greg Copeland.  "I am very surprised the judge didn't kick it."

If found guilty of violating the neighborhood ordinance, the Copelands face a fine.  And being that it's not a court of record, they could start the whole process over again in Tulsa County District Court.

On Friday, Brenda Copeland and their two boys will testify and they hope to have a verdict by the afternoon.

The Copeland Family adds Dakota is house trained and has never had an accident in the house.