By Mary Thurwachter
An amendment to an ordinance that would allow miniature pigs to live in Lantana squeaked by the Town Council on May 14 — but not without trepidation.
While council members were sympathetic to the call from resident John Park to keep his pet mini pig when the topic first came up in April, further study of mini pigs, or teacup pigs, had the council concerned about how portly the little piggies could become.
Council member Malcolm Balfour shared his remembrance of an issue Key West had with a pig in the past, when Balfour was a journalist covering a story there.
“These pigs grow,” he said. “They grow very, very big. There was a man in Key West who had a pig next door and the pig was enamored with his Harley-Davidson. The pig destroyed the Harley-Davidson.”
There was huge outcry over the issue, he said.
“I’m going to keep my Harley in the garage,” quipped council member Phil Aridas, who supported the new ordinance.
Vice Mayor Edward Shropshire said he had read that little pigs start to get big and by the age of 4 many of them end up going to rescue.
“I just wondered if there’s another way we could go about this,” Shropshire said. “I see the individuals involved aren’t here tonight, but could they have it [pig] as an emotional support animal or something along those lines that would allow them to still keep the pig without us having to go through changing the code?
“I understand this is a lovable pet, but are there alternative ways to handle this? Any well-behaved pet can be an emotional support animal with appropriate documentation from a licensed physician, and that’s from the North American Pet Pig Association.”
But designating a pet as a therapy pig won’t work, said Town Attorney Max Lohman.
“There’s a big difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal,” Lohman said. “Emotional support animals are not recognized by the ADA and you’re not protected by an emotional support animal. People run around doing that all the time like that yahoo who tried to take a peacock on an airplane. There’s a big, big difference and people have abused that to the point where the law doesn’t recognize it anymore.”
Service animals are different, Lohman said. “A service animal assists someone with a legally recognized disability. An emotional support animal is not the same thing under the ADA, so we wouldn’t allow them a reasonable accommodation to get around our code for that.”
Mayor Dave Stewart had also done some research and said some of the little pigs grow to be 180 pounds. At Stewart’s suggestion, the new ordinance will include a weight limit of 35 pounds.
Lohman warned that enforcement could be a problem.
Council member Lynn Moorhouse said he didn’t think pigs make nearly as much racket as a parrot or macaw or other birds. “If this is a small domesticated animal I have no problem with it in the least — unless there are substantial complaints by the Police Department where it’s a nuisance,” he said.
The ordinance will come up for a final vote on June 11. Passage will mean Park won’t have to give up his pet pig or pay a fine — unless the animal tips the scale at more than 35 pounds.