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Virginia Beach man wins fight to keep emu as emotional support animal

Nick Olenik has always surrounded himself with animals.

Outside of several cats and dogs, he cares for three ducks, a turkey, and six hens at his Kempsville home in Virginia Beach. But it’s what isn’t there right now that brought us to his backyard in Virginia Beach Thursday.

“I understand how crazy it sounds, but yes, an emu makes a great household pet,” Olenik said.

Olenik raised a nearly six-foot-tall emu named Nimbus for six months, beginning in December of 2022.

“They are majestic creatures,” Olenik said.

In the years leading up to their life together, Olenik was down on his luck. He lost his brother in 2019, and a year later the pandemic forced him into isolation. Then, his father passed away.

Olenik was depressed and stuck in a rut, but he found hope in Nimbus after hearing about alternative animal therapy from a neighbor.

“No side effects,” Olenik said. “Except for the city being mad at me.”

The last few months he’s been wrapped up in a legal battle with the city of Virginia Beach.

Even though Nick has all the proper paperwork, Nimbus didn’t jive with city ordinances.

He had to give her up and leave her with a friend at a rescue in Tennessee while he fought for her in court.

“It was disheartening to me,” Olenik said.

Source : 13 News