This June, a teen named Jayden Cannon in Hoover, Alabama, received a notice from the Ross Bridge homeowner’s association that he would have to give up his beloved pet tortoise, Fred, because it wasn’t on the list of approved pets, AL.com reported.
The story gained traction online thanks to an Instagram page — @save_fredthetortoise — which is raising funds to fight the HOA’s decision. As of July 1, it had gathered $1,200 in donations and presales of “Save Fred” t-shirts, according to AL.com.
According to Cannon and his family, the tortoise isn’t loud, dangerous, messy, or any kind of a nuisance to the neighborhood. He’s even useful because he eats the grass in their backyard — a zero-effort, zero-pollution plan for lawn maintenance. “I haven’t had to cut the grass in three years,” Cannon said.
The family isn’t sure who contacted the HOA about their pet. “We think they just saw him in the neighborhood, and someone reported it,” Cannon told AL.com.
According to the news report, Cannon has had Fred since Christmas 2015. While the Sulcata tortoise isn’t on the HOA’s list of approved pets, Cannon believes he should be grandfathered in since the list was created after he got Fred. He also pointed out that there are many other unapproved pets in the neighborhood, like ferrets and snakes.
In a case like this, where a community disagrees with an HOA’s rules, it is often possible to change the rules using the association’s own internal procedures. The family could also appeal for an exception, which would be up to the HOA to grant.
Reddit commenters hated seeing what the Ross Bridge HOA was doing to Cannon and to Fred. “That’s so petty!” said one user.
Luckily, this time, the media attention seems to have paid off. The family later received word that the HOA had reversed its decision, AL.com reported. The Cannons will use the money they raised for a party where community members can meet Fred.
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